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“Everything is Politics”

My people are destroyed for lack of discernment*.

                                                               Hosea 4:6

I make it an intentional rule to avoid discussing the politics of men on this platform or any public forum for Loma de Luz / the Cornerstone Foundation. That is not what we are here for. Or I should say more precisely, our perspective and endeavors are for “a Kingdom that is not of this world”. Still, there is a lot of truth to Thomas Mann’s trenchant rejoinder that “Everything is politics”.

In case there is someone out there who just woke up from a three month long nap, there are two huge new deals in the World today;

1.) the threat and the damage done by Covid-19, the infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

2.) the threat and the damage done by governments responding to the threat of Covid-19.

Loma de Luz is by no means immune to either. As a Hospital in a developing nation known on a grass roots level as the place to go when you are really hurt or really sick, Hospital Loma de Luz has prepared for the threat of Covid-19 as only a group of diligent, intelligent, and imaginative people can when faced with an impending existential threat.

I wrote the following to a physician friend a couple of days ago:

“I am quite proud of the job we have done as a group of missionaries and employees here. We likely are the best prepared hospital in all of Honduras for Covid-19…arguably perhaps in all of Central America in many ways. We have an entirely separate hospital system for potential Covids, separate from the ongoing regular hospital, from triage area outside the gate to exam/ lab/ XRay/discharge or in-patient stay to potential ICU… all separate. We are well stocked with proactive policies, procedures, and PPE. In fact we are the PPE provider for all of the health officials in the area, as well as the hospital. We have a good supply of all of the current cutting-edge medications for Covid, an accomplishment which required us to stay just one step ahead of the next US restrictions and embargos, the next wave of panic buying and hoarding telegraphed by a presidential tweet. We are the only facility I have heard of anywhere that can do BOTH the PCR test and the Point OF Care IgM rapid-test….. We even have our own bus & bus schedule that goes out and screens and picks up and transports patients, out of area separated from in-area & isolating them the whole way from pick-up point to drop off point… YET WE HAVE NOT SEEN ONE SINGLE COVID-19 PATIENT.

For one thing, they just aren’t there. And, for another, the government is blocking them from getting to us. In more than a month since the first test-positive in the country, we have had just over 400 test positives, and a grand total of 25 Covid deaths in the entire country of Honduras…. A number which has stayed statistically insignificant and statistically unchanged for a week.

Covid Graph
Here is another one of those scary graphs of Covid-19. … Until you realize it represents 25 people. We have many times that number who die in Honduras in one day from altercations on the beach the Saturday before Easter. Of course every death is a matter of great import, and involves an immortal soul. But this also brings to mind Mark Twain’s observation that, “There are 3 kinds of liars: Liars, Damned Liars, and Statisticians.”

That is a death/ million rate of just under 2.5 deaths / Million people, a number very similar to the results in most of the rest of Central America. The death rate from all other causes is 3,000 times this tiny current cause of death. The death rate from violent crime alone in Honduras a few years ago was 17.5 times higher than this current Covid death rate.

Why does Central America have such a different experience than the Northern Hemisphere, urban dwelling, Developed Nation pensioners? Is it temperature & humidity related? (Compare results of deaths/ Million for countries between 15º N latitude & 15º S latitude vs. countries North of 30 º N latitude). Is it age related? (Italy with a median age of 47-48 years & Covid Deaths/Million of 350 currently… vs. Honduras with median age of 23-24 years & Covid Deaths/Million of 2.5 ). Is it genetics? …….Probably all of the above.

But a one size fits all approach to public policy promoted by the WHO, with the data and perspective of Northern Hemisphere, Developed Nation urban academics, is proving to be a monstrous mistake for a lot of the rest of the world.

Out here in the majority world, we spend more real time, money and effort figuring out how to feed hungry people in our area that can’t get food (many hundreds-perhaps thousands of people in our area) due to this one-size-fits-all public policy lock-down approach… than any patients with Covid (407 test positives in the entire country, almost all of them treated at home, one month into the known exposure)…. Yet, the economy has been wrecked!! For this???

We live with tremendously greater risk of infectious diseases all of the time. We had 120,000 documented patients with dengue in Honduras last year… not 407…Deaths/ million in Honduras due to dengue last year of 108/ Million… compared to 2.5 for Covid. Yet there were no curfews, no country-wide lockdowns, no all businesses closed, no desperate people standing in lines with bandanas on their scared faces, no citizens locked into starving villages due to dengue. Where was the daily mounting death counts and test positives & recovered graphs on every news channel all over the world for dengue last year when we were struggling at 3 O’clock in the morning with a child or a young father dying from dengue on the ventilator here and throughout this country?

Dengue Patients Honduras
“Hondurans in last years Dengue epidemic”, which never made it to CNN.

How many cancers per day are not getting diagnosed or not being treated because of social lockdowns? How many strokes or MI’s are not being prevented because of social lockdowns? How many people who would usually get care for their renal failure, their arthritis, their complicated pregnancies, their diabetes, their depression, their appendicitis or broken bones???

No one knows… and that is just the point.

I can say that in Honduras, MANY THOUSANDS of patients suffering from any and all of the above are NOT being cared for – for every Covid-19 patient who is. What I am saying is that an Academic Bureaucrat in London or Washington D.C. makes a prognostication of what might possibly apply to London or Washington D.C., and then the rest of the world is coerced into following suit??? I don’t know about London or Washington D.C., but the average Honduran has less than 2 weeks worth of food or resources to obtain food. And without work or transport on the roads, “My people are destroyed for lack of discernment*.” !

* דַּעַת da’hath = knowledge, understanding, discernment.

Ok, enough ranting for a while. So, what do we do about it? ??? We follow Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat”. We feed the hungry.

Missionaries, MK’s,Staff & our Casa Santuario Kids Preparing Food Packages

We think that feeding the hungry is first the job of the church, then second the job of civil authorities. And, we have to be careful not to go through only one church/ one pastor. So, we chose the three most viable local churches and asked the church leadership to identify 25 families or individuals without food in their communities. We also shared food with our municipal authorities. Our mayor, thank God, is a good mayor and a big ally of Loma de Luz in government circles. Actually, each church stepped up to the plate and added to the food, so all told we have made up and given out nearly 500 packages of food so far, with about 3/4ths of it going through the local churches and 1/4th through our local municipal government.

I heard from one of our missionaries that when they gave the food to a family in Margarita “they started crying because they had killed an iguana for lunch and didn’t know where their next meal would come from. They didn’t have any beans or rice left.”

I heard from one of our workers that they “had her in-laws over for lunch this weekend because the older couple and their invalid daughter had no food left.”

I’ve heard so many such telling stories that perhaps you’ll forgive me for railing against a one size fits all approach to public policy promoted by the WHO.

As the official word currently is that these policies are likely to continue “until September” ( or whenever Honduras stops following the blind leaders of the blind), it is pretty clear we will need to do this again next week, and the week after that …..until we run out of resources …………….while we pray many times a day, that the hand of God will , as in the days of Joseph, take what men decided … that causes harm… (whether intentional or well meaning)… yet God will turn to good , “ …. the saving of many lives.” … and not just from a virus.