Monday, February 19, 2018

Say no to ice buckets, yes to real action

 Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease is one type of a number of sclerosis diseases. It is currently being touted à la “ice-bucket challenge”. Most people find it noble. As a biology major and a man of (apparently) little common sense, I find it pathetic. Here’s why:

1. The ice bucket challenge is short-lived...and so, too, is the memory of ALS to most people unaffected by the disease.

2. Most people taking the challenge do it for publicity or fun. Few will ever contribute financially. Far less will contribute on a continuous basis, which is what’s needed for scientists to fund experiments to the end, in order to have plausible results to find a cure or effective treatment.

3. The popular argument is that pouring cold water on your head raises awareness of ALS. I’ve been taking the challenge for the better part of 30 years (it’s called taking a bath). Heck, the Titanic crew all took up the challenge. Never taught me (or Titanic’s crew, some of whom survived) how to spell sclerosis, far less about any type of sclerosis.

4. People in India, Africa and all over the world are suffering from a lack of potable water, food and medication. I don’t see any news reporters or police offi­cers taking up the “feed Africa” or “water India” challenge. Nope! Just film yourself wasting potable water and show that to water-stricken places and, somehow, that saves lives. WASA (Water and Sewerage Authority), take note. There is no reason why Arima (water in Amerin­dian) should suffer for water with these theatrics on live television.

5. While the Ministry of Health (yes, I work there) struggles to combat rising numbers of chikungunya, dengue and chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs)—mostly preventable diseases if you keep a clean environment, eat well and exercise—among an increasingly

unhealthy and lazy population, people jump on the bandwagon to promote a disease that affects mostly Caucasians, a minority in this country. Perhaps the ministry should move to Europe for a better reception?

The thought may count, but thoughts never changed the world, actions do. Take the challenge: contribute financially to a worthy cause of your choice (often), and live a healthy lifestyle. I’m sure Lou Gehrig would hit a home run for that.

Shabba De Leon