#IceBucketWhat?

Malaria kills more than 3000 people every day (most of them African children), and every year, 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria. An estimated 3-5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world due to cholera. As of August 20, 2014, West Africa ebola virus death toll had risen to 1,350. The ebola virus is not airborne, but it is highly contagious.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS is not contagious. Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time. About 60% of the people with ALS are men and 93% of ALS patients are Caucasian.

As I read through the aforementioned statistics, I underlined 93% and Caucasian. Nigerian celebrities doggedly campaigning to strike out ALS is noble, but it also beyond appalling. The current situation of the Nigerian state is dire: chibok girls are still missing (since April), so whatever happened to #bringbackourgirls?. Almost every week, there are explosions and deaths in many northern states. About a week ago, suspected Islamist Boko Haram fighters abducted dozens of boys and men in Maiduguri. Whatever happened to #bringbackourboys?

Unemployment is eating through the fabric that keeps the Nigerian youth alive. Why are Nigerian celebrities campaigning to strike out ALS, a disease that affects mostly caucasians? Why is Genevieve Nnaji not campaigning for better roads? Why is Iyanya not speaking out in support of education of the girl child? Why are Peter and Paul Okoye not fundraising for a cure or vaccine for ebola? Why is Davido not speaking out for malaria prevention? Why has IcePrince refused to pour several liters of ice-cold water on himself in order to address the issue of unemployment?

How many more Africans have to die before our celebrities take our matter to heart? When will we stop misplacing priories; fighting for a cause that is not ours? Abeg, what is Nigeria’s concern with #ALSIceBucketChallenge which primarily helps raise money for Lou Gehrig’s Disease research. What about ebola vaccine research? Malaria prevention?

We get it. Celebrities always itch to do something noble. There are thousands of diseases — medical and socioeconomic — threatening to destroy the very root of Nigeria. Please, next time there is an itch, dear celebrities, scratch in the right place. Charity, they say, begins at home.
Literally.

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Statistics quoted in this writeup were found on the following websites:
http://www.alsa.org/
http://news.yahoo.com/liberian-security-forces-seal-slum-halt-ebola-090920535.html
http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/15/boko-haram-kidnap-boys_n_5681165.html

Written by
Mary Shorun
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