Hamza Azaoui- Goulmima
Since last December the inhabitants of kaser Touroug, a small village in the outskirts of Errachidia province, have been living under a state of alert because of the endemic Leishmaniasis disease that has (re)invaded their placid town, and caused tens of painful bacterial infections among infants and children.
Leishmaniasis is notoriously known as a parasitic disease spread by the bite of certain types of sandflies that breed in arid rural areas like in the oases of the Southeast of Morocco. Infections in human beings cause initially skin lesions and sores, and most of the time leave indelible permanent scarring in different parts of the body, especially on the most visible ones like the face and the hands.
While still there is no official statement from the Ministry of Health about the exact number of infected cases, local people of Touroug confirm with an intense sorrow that the number of victims, especially among children is dramatically increasing. This situation, the locals warn, is likely to exacerbate dramatically and spread to neighboring villages because the town’s unique infirmary lacks the basic facilities to receive patients, and the delegation of the Ministry in Errachidia have yet neither sent any medical unit to treat the agonized patients, nor taken urgent measures to stop the mushrooming of this disease.
According to some local social activists, who have adopted the issue, the endemic effects of the disease have trespassed the borders of Touroug, and more than 170 new cases have been found recently in the villages of Mala’ab and Toulwin in the peripheries of Goulmima. They confirm that the situation is getting uncontrollable and presages of a worrying bleak future to come. As long as the authorities have not dealt seriously with sandflies during this period of biological rest, the region would witness a human tragedy in the coming months because high temperature provides suitable conditions for the reproduction of this nightmare.
The recurrence of this predicament in the region of Errachidia brings back to memory the way the former minister of Health Yassmina Baddou reacted once she heard of the disease. Her hysteric laughter in the parliament at the plight and misery of the people affected was nothing but an indication of how unimportant the concerns and problems of the region are. It seems that nothing has changed ever since, and the systematic policy of marginalization is still unwilling to give up tormenting the lives of people.
Although nature has been complicity with politics, and notwithstanding the indifference of the authorities, and the unfordable expensive medicaments, the poor locals of Touroug and other villages of Errachidia province, resort to traditional ways to cure what is left of their mutilated and deformed bodies. Although they know the tar and other herbs they are using are not efficient, and sometimes even unhealthy for their deep injuries, they believe their infectious and stinky scars would remain both a proof of their resolute resistance and a sign of disgrace and dishonor for those who have been neglecting them.