Getting sick in Kabul is not big news. It’s an occupational hazard and it’s rare for a week to pass without one of your friends or acquaintances being struck down by some form of viral sickness. Kabul has little modern sanitation. Faeces flow in open sewers. The urban myth is that the faecal content of the air is as high as 30 per cent but there are no real stats to back this up . But as they say, ‘shit happens’. Well it does here… people get ill. A lot.
What’s funny is the type and nature of these maladies. Conditions you last read about in a Jane Austen novel or in some cases The Bible: Consumption, Diphtheria, Rickets and Cholera to mention just a few ailments my colleagues are currently struck with. One mate is currently going through the excruciating 14-day incubation period for Rabies and another is limping about with suspected Gout, although that could be to do with the biblical amounts of red wine he demolishes every evening.
Most of the victims are not the street-eating adventurous types. They live in gated compounds, work for organisations like The World Bank or the British Embassy. They have canteens, they are protected and cosseted with 24-hour electricity and air conditioning. But no one is immune. I would say the rough quota of people who are mildly ill to healthy is about one in four. Which for the British press could be seen as bordering on a pandemic level .
Last month I contracted Typhoid and Giardia. I had to Google it (not recommended). Apparently it’s, "a flagellated protozoan parasite that colonises and reproduces in the small intestine. It’s found in infected people's stool and cannot be seen by the naked eye." Which is quite a relief. Any disease that you visibly see would freak the life out of me. I will spare you the details, as this is my second near death experience out here (first one quite good though), suffice to say I’ll not be eating pea soup again.
My theory is that it’s our ‘community’s’ lack of obedience to Gods' commandments and that he is punishing the infidels, who live and breathe this country’s holy air. In Biblical times, disease was seen to be a punishment from God because of spiritual sins, and if your read my last blog you’ll know that there is plenty of that going on. I’ve not read the new novel, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story From Hell On Earth which is all about the antics of aid workers in war torn places. However I have read Deuteronomy - Chapter 28: which talks about; physical internal pain, tumours, incurable scabs, madness and other references to sterility, burning fever, blindness and depression. All of which are symptoms of syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, AIDS, Chlamydia, trichinosis and or leprosy. Though I’m not quite sure if the Kabul NGO community is quite that sick yet.
So in a medieval country shouldn’t we be looking for medieval cures? It’s back to Google to lead us down that dark virtual pathway: “Purification of disease was accomplished by burning prostitutes, captured men, their sexual partners, their children, animals, and infected garments and villages. Anything that could carry diseases from one village to another was burned to purify it from communicable diseases. Only the virgins were spared."
Maybe that’s the answer… if only we lived in Kandahar .
The Afghan Hound
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