Global health condemns Colonial mentality towards Africa

The recent “racist statements” made by French researchers, who referred to Africa as a “test field” for a possible vaccine against Covid-19, have been condemned by Tedros Adhanoum Gebresos, World Health Organizaion “WHO” General Director.

“Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Gebresos, who previously held the position of Ethiopian foreign minister, in an online press conference from Geneva, condemning the “colonial mentality.”

A French doctor apologized on Friday for suggesting experiments with a possible Covid-19 vaccine in Africa after his comments drew widespread criticism on social media.

Jean-Paul Mira, head of the intensive care unit at Cochin Hospital in Paris, presented this proposal last Wednesday during an interview on French television channel LCI with the research director of the French National Health Institute.

Research director Camille Locht was in discussion about the BCG tuberculosis vaccine that is being tried in many European countries as a treatment of Covid-19.

“If I could be provocative, shouldn’t we conduct this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment or intensive care, the same way some studies on AIDS have been conducted?” Asked Mira.

“We are testing the vaccine because we know they are extremely vulnerable and do not protect themselves,” he said.

Camille Locht replied, “You are right. By the way, we are in the process of thinking in parallel about conducting a study in Africa … This does not prevent us from thinking about conducting study in Europe and Australia.”

The comments sparked outrage on social media. The Paris Hospital Network, which runs the Mira hospital, quoted him as saying, “I want to sincerely apologize to those who have been offended, shocked and humiliated by the rude comments about the vaccine this week.”

A spokesman for the Senegalese President, Abdellatif Coulibaly, criticized on Monday, the statements of the two French doctors in an article published in a local newspaper, in which he talked about the head of the emergency department at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, John Paul Mira’s statements, and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research’s general director, Camille Locht.

Coulibaly described the doctors’ statements as “stemming from colonial unconscious” strongly criticizing them.

“These sarcastic statements against the African people, which are one of the manifestations of racism, have left us in amazement, just like the rest of the Africans.” He said

Coulibaly continued: “This view is the product of a destructive colonial history and is a madness reflected in culture.”

He added, “Many Western intellectuals and officials reflect a colonial mentality in their relationship with Africa.”

“Africa is not a testing lab. I would like to denounce these insulting and wrong words and above all they exude racism,” Didier Drogba, a retired football star from Ivory Coast, wrote on Twitter.

Moroccan media and human rights circles criticized on Saturday, the French doctor who considered the African continent a “field of experiments” for discovering vaccines against the Corona virus.

In response to the two French doctors, the official Moroccan News Agency broadcasted an article which said: “3 days after the insults directed at Africans on one of its television channels, it does not seem that France, with a few exceptions, is interested in the matter, even in terms of sympathy for its citizens of African origins.”

The article continued: “Since the broadcast of this provocative dialogue, there has been no official response of any kind and it appears that in France, freedom of expression, freedom of insult and slander are confused.”

The “Lawyers Club of Morocco” (a gathering of lawyers) announced its intention to file a complaint at the French court against the aforementioned doctor.

The club, on its Facebook page, said that it had decided to pursue a lawsuit against the French doctor, who is the director of the emergency department at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, because of his statements about the trial of the Corona vaccine in Africa.

On the same issue, Moroccan activists on social media have expressed outrage and rejection of the French doctor’s “racist” statements. They considered it to reflect the colonial thought of some Europeans.

In this regard, Moroccan journalist Nouman Al-Yalawi expressed his surprise at what was published by the French doctor.

“I am surprised by the statement of the French doctor, who considered the African continent a field of experiments to discover vaccines for Corona,” Al-Yalawi said.

He added: “Unfortunately, this is the colonial thinking’s truth that still lives in the minds of some Europeans, most of whom are from the French intellectual and political elite.”

Faced with criticism for the two French doctors, the French embassy in South Africa, on Saturday, expressed its dissatisfaction with the comments. “We were deeply shocked by these comments, which of course do not reflect the position of the French authorities,” the embassy said in a statement.

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