The CONCACAF Under-17 World Cup qualifications is currently being marred by a dispute between the FHF and the JFF. As the media presents it- two members of the Haitian football team were found to be infected with Malaria. This is a fact admitted in both Haitian and Jamaican news reports. In the Haiti Libre "we find Two of our players are infected with malaria, yet this disease cannot be spread by human contact.
This frustration comes due to a lack of respect towards our ambassadors. Our players are isolated, close in rooms guarded by soldiers, no access to outside communication, food nor water."
In the Gleaner it states that the Malaria infected players were treated and other members of the team were found to be exhibiting symptoms. The Ministry of Health recommended that the players return home and arrangements were made for such. There are clear questions of the rules of International Travel and Trade. This I accept but let me look at this from another perspective. Let us forget Jamaica versus Haiti for a moment or even the joy that comes with representing your country. Let us look at this as a team which is ill.
Malaria is a parasitic illness carried by the anopheles mosquito. It is distributed from one human to another by the bite of this mosquito. It is a tropical disease and as such is likely to be found in countries like Haiti and Jamaica. The symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, sweating, vomiting, jaundice, chills and extreme symptoms such as a coma and anemia. The players on the Haitian football team are under the age of 17. So let us stop for a moment and present the scenario that the FHF and the Haitian Government are parents and these players are there children. Would it be responsible of the parent to send the child to play a strenuous sport such as football suffering from these symptoms? This a team of children and might I say the future of Haiti like all countries rests in the hands of the next generation. I am certain these players were eager to represent their country and bring some joy to a battered people but at what cost? Is Haiti's role and participation in the Under-17 World Cup more important than the health and welfare of its people?
The discovery of malaria according to the WHO should and must be treated as a medical emergency and the infected be immediately hospitalised. Medication could take anywhere from a day to two weeks to rid the body of the disease though in most cases it is survivable. But even if the possibility existed that these players were a day away from being cured do you send them on a football field for 90 minutes of strenuous activity? My immediate answer is no. Its responsible and this may be a window into the kinds of actions that have crippled the Caribbean's first independent nation.
Now let us look at international health and trade. Given the discovery of the disease the immediate course of action is to have those suffering treated with proper medication. Based on all accounts this was done but again these players would have been in no condition to play. This disease though not transmitted by human contact as the FHF pointed out is transmitted by a mosquito that is found in Jamaica. By not taking any action people would have been at risk- healthy Haitians included. It is not a show of positive international relations to send the Haitians home. However, the Haitians were in Jamaica to play a football match expressing good 'parenting' it was recommended that it was in the best interest of the children that they not be allowed to play the match. As such send them home. If it was schoolboy football and St. George's showed up at Excelsior roasting with fever I suspect the referees would call of the match and send the team back from whence they came.
The Haitian government acted irresponsibly and had no regard for the health of its own people. The Jamaican government took the health of its own people into account and acted responsibly. I do not believe we should apologise for that and all attempts to appease the inflamed Haitians should halted. On the matter of Haiti burning flags and boycotting products well the people must vent I suppose. In my opinion, I think the Haitians have truly lost their way. Their anger should be directed towards their own government for instead of making sure these boys were healthy they sent them to play football.