Fri, 28 Feb, 2020

Goa must stay alert & combat lethal viruses

Being a tropical region, the State is home to viruses from time immemorial; history shows Goa’s tryst with viruses goes back to over 500 million years

Story: Dr | Joe | 12th February 2020, 03:07 Hrs

Dr Joe D’Souza

The coronavirus scare has reached pandemic levels with the death of an American and a Japanese. The panic amongst the people is essentially because during the incubation period of ten days, the latent viral particles show no symptoms and appear passive. However, once the viral particles are out of the dormant phase severe symptoms of pneumonia show up. The flu, fever and the respiratory malfunctioning rapidly set in making it extremely difficult for the patient to breathe and he/she is unable to give a challenging immunological response. As a result, the patient gradually succumbs. Mankind has not been able to find an effective drug to kill and eliminate the viral particles in vivo.

Goa, being a tropical region, is the home for viruses from time immemorial. History would show us that Goa’s tryst with viruses goes for over 500 million years. Even in the recent past dating back to 100 to 200 years, disabilities and deaths due to smallpox, chickenpox, viral jaundice, encephalitis, rabies, viral dysentery, pneumonia, polio etc always afflicted the State. Pig mortalities, fowl epidemics, monkey fever, bat flu, feline pneumonia have never been taken seriously in Goa.

Animal mortalities did hurt our economy but we have turned Nelson’s eye to the veterinary needs of the State. Animal vaccines are sparingly available, but these are not produced in Goa.

We have to take virology very seriously as viruses are of different types, both genetically as well as morphologically. We have double and single-stranded DNA viruses and similarly, we also have the single and double-stranded RNA viruses.

What is alarming is the fact that these simple particles can take over the molecular mechanism of human DNA. This results in passive growth of cancers of all human organ, skin, blood and the disrupting of the human physiology leading to death. Don’t we hear doctor’s record the cause or reason of death as due to heart failure respiratory syndromes, pancreatitis but we forget to note that the main cause of morbidity is due to viral infectivity. Even AIDS patients die of pneumonia although it is the HIV virus that weakens the human immune system.

Over the past five decades, have things looked better and brighter for the average Goan? The answer squarely is a big no. Whilst we see the so-called development in terms of concrete jungles mushrooming all around us, we see Goa of yesteryears plundered. We have destroyed our aquifers, ripped off our hills, silted our agricultural fields, catalyzed respiratory infections and acutely disturbed our ecosystem, biodiversity and ushered a devastating problem, whereby groundwater table has receded and depleted as well polluted our water resources. 

As years go by, we would see flooding during monsoons accompanied by acute soil erosion and landslides, but during the summers we would witness the lakes silted and rivers polluted with mining rejects and industrial effluents too. Today, although Goa is free of illegal mineral extraction, our woes are far from over. The tertiary sector of our economy has become a bane to the locals. Today, the already polluted reddish water supplied by the PWD and the private tankers have critically endangered our lives. 

Sad, but true, the greedy tourism industry in Goa is surreptitiously destroying our resources and livelihood in the form of fisheries, agriculture, floriculture, etc., as solid waste management in Goa is in turmoil. The scientific treatments of garbage, effluents, industrial wastes and stalling of housing, commercial and industrial complexes should be our priority to bring back a sustainable and holistic development of our Goan society.

Yes, we always say, that we have to think globally but ensure that we act locally to global warming and undertake sustainable development for our global society at large. Sadly, we have been condemned to suffer acute distress and challenges to our very existence or survival. The impacts of global warming and sea water-level rise; caused by the melting of polar ice and glaciers surely is adversely affecting the vast expanses of coastal Goa and the low-lying reaches of river banks. Are Goans prepared to face coastal erosion, flooding and displacement?

Interestingly, it is depressing that Goa is reeking and reeling into a series of man-made disasters. Our developmental models are centred around massive corruption, scams and widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. From an aggressive and dynamic agrarian society of yesteryears, we have turned into a parasitic society. Agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries and horticulture were decentralized in the past. There was plenty of fresh water in our springs, rivers, lakes. Bacteria-free potable water was there for our taking in every household well. Water is the basic and core requirement to fuel the growth of Goa. Sadly, today the centralized PWD pipeline water supplied from the Opa plant over River Khandepar is full of oxides of iron and visibly reddish brown and not crystal clear as the well waters of the yesteryears. 

Goa of today has locals abandoning agriculture, fisheries, vegetable farming and orchards. Poultry, farming, floriculture and fisheries are today centralized and under the control of outstation mafia, with traditional fishermen, farmers and vendors making their living by migrating to Europe. Thanks to Portuguese colonial master, who have bestowed upon us the goodness of the Portuguese passport and easy access to jobs within the European Union and other countries. Goa in the past produced internationally renowned doctors, engineers, architects, professionals in the field of music, art, literature, science, sports and parliamentarians too.

To add a nail to the coffin, Goa today has the dubious distinction of being a leader in the rising incidences of cancers, enteric infections, and persistent respiratory ailments.

Also, Goans need to wake up to the parasites and parasitic form of governance, which is destroying us completely. Is a revolution possible? Would Goans reflect and ponder on the various issues which are destroying and devastating them as they have allowed men devoid of vision and ability to shoulder the mantle of Goa governance?

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