Every week, we will speak to different important entities in health care, as we try to get to know them better.
This week, Docki finally got a few minutes with the deadly duo of Malaria & Typhoid. M & T are famous among those who self-medicate, in many Nigerian chemist shops and even some Hospitals.
Thank you for agreeing to speak with me, I know you are very busy people.
M: See, don’t mention it. It has been crazy for us, but thank you for asking to talk.
You are welcome.
T: Yes o, things have been crazy. This country is funny o, normally we pursue people to infect them. But in Nigeria ehn, na dem dey rush us.
We’ll get to that, but first, can you tell me a little about yourselves?
T: God bless you, my name is Typhoid fever, Nigerians call me Typhoid, and pretentious doctors call me Pythogenic Fever.
What about you Malaria, you’ve been silent, you also look a little tired.
M: My brother, your eyes are sharp o. Yes, I am tired jare. I was up all night thinking about my life.
Oh, what about your life exactly?
M: I feel very misunderstood. In the olden days, the gods got credit for the sicknesses I caused. Today, I get credit for illnesses I know nothing about. I have the people’s attention, but it is misplaced, and this is causing me a lot of pain.
In our line of work, integrity is very important, and a key part of this integrity is getting recognized for your work. I have done a lot of work in Nigeria. In fact, I infected millions of Nigerians last year.
Malaria, that’s a lot. Do you rest at all?
M: (Waves nonchalantly.) Yes, I know it is a lot. I am very hardworking. You know, people have been fighting with me for thousands of years.
It is a shame that my integrity is now on the line after so many years and so many battles. Other illnesses are saying things about how I reap where I did not sow. Even that small boy of yesterday called Cancer opens his mouth to talk when I am talking these days. Now the President of the Council of Diseases is setting up a committee to look into my past achievements.
Interviewer, you are a Nigerian abi?
Yes, I am
M: I heard you guys love committees.
Yes, we do.
M: Do committees work? I know I should know the answer but I am too busy infecting people.
Ermm… Well, actually, committees don’t really work in my country. We just like creating them. Malaria, please stop asking me questions like this. This interview is not for bashing Nigeria.
Let’s focus okay?
M: Okay, okay… See, my situation is really bad. Even symptoms, you know symptoms are our messengers. Symptoms now disrespect me. The other day, I walked past Headache, Fever, and Body Pain, and they could not greet me.
(Malaria tears up) I have suffered o.
I can only imagine how you feel. I think we should focus on Typhoid for now. Let’s hear what he has to say.
Malaria nods sadly while wiping his face.
Sorry Typhoid, it seems we left you alone for a little bit.
T: (Angrily) It’s okay. I am used to being an afterthought.
Ah ah, are you angry?
T: No o (while squeezing his face like maltreated akara)
Why do you think you are an afterthought?
T: Ever wonder why it is Malaria and Typhoid, and not the other way around? If not for Malaria, who send me?
Hmmm…You are right.
Typhoid: Of course I am, people hardly call me alone. It is always with Malaria. And they are usually wrong. They are spoiling my reputation with these false accusations. Now I understand how the devil feels.
What do you mean?
T: You humans always blame the devil for any small thing. I mean, I know the devil is a bad guy, but you people use your hand to look for trouble, when they now catch you red-handed, you will start shedding crocodile tears saying, “It is the devil”. Someone that is minding his own business.
I don’t know what to say…
T: It is okay, I understand. I just wish people would leave me alone though. Any small stomach pain and fever, my name comes up. And that stupid Widal keeps lying to them.
Widal? I know Widal… I didn’t think he was in on the deal.
T: Widal is a con-man. He appears innocent to people like you, and he keeps spreading the rumor that he knows how to find me. It is a lie. Widal is a liar and a thief. I laugh when I see people pay for Widal’s services.
T: I said what I said.
I won’t add this to the final script. I don’t want trouble o.
T: That is your own cup of tea. See, we want you to help us. Our problems are different, yet, similar (Malaria nods). For Malaria, there are quick, accurate, and cheap tests but people don’t like doing the test. Any small thing,
“Doctor, I know my body. Once my tongue is sour, it must be malaria paradise.”
“In my family, we treat Malaria every month.”
“Once I have sore throat and my bumbum starts itching, I know I have malaria.”
There is nothing people don’t say. STOP disgracing us. Just do this test so that Malaria will get credit for only his hard work. Let the disgrace end. Has Malaria not suffered enough?
M: Thank you my brother. You are a true friend.
T: Don’t mention.
(They share a bro hug)
That’s cute. No hug for me?
T: As I was saying, in my case, sometimes they don’t do any test, or they keep choosing the wrong test. Blood, and stool culture are there, but they keep using that rubbish Widal. Please, sir, I want you to beg Nigerians and their doctors. They should do the right thing and leave Widal tests alone.
M: Yes, tell them too that not every fever and body weakness or pain is Malaria. I need to salvage my reputation. Please beg them… Things have never been this bad for me in the Council of Diseases (Malaria gets on his knees)
Okay okay, there is no need for this. I will talk to them for you.
Typhoid, any last words?
T: (With an air of pride) Hmmm, well. I want to give a shout out to my mortal enemies — typhoid vaccine, good personal hygiene and food hygiene. I know they are suffering because few people patronize them. Instead, people keep using only antibiotics to fight me. If they were smarter, they would use my mortal enemies from the start to prevent me. You know that many antibiotics are now frail from abuse.
Anyway, I hope people never figure out that they can stop me with these things.
T: But tell them to stop enriching that Widal, okay?
I will. It has been nice chatting with you.
M & T: The pleasure is all ours.
T: One last thing. I really hope you help us put an end to our forced siblingship. Malaria is a great guy and all, but we both need space for ourselves.
I will try my best. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk to me.