Mohammed Salissou Kane

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March 30, 2010
Mohammed Salissou Kane, Carter Center representative in Mali.

Guinea Worm Oral History Project - Interviewed by Nancy Hilyer

Source

The Carter Center Office of Public Information, Health Programs
453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30307
www.cartercenter.org

Citation

“Mohammed Salissou Kane,” The Global Health Chronicles, accessed March 30, 2017, http://globalhealthchronicles.org/items/show/4741.

Guinea Worm Oral History Project - Global Health Chronicles
Interviewed by Nancy Hilyer, March 30, 2010
Salissou Kane – Carter Center Representative in Niger
0:00 (Start of interview)
Nancy Hilyer (NH): This is an interview with Salissou Kane, Carter Center representative in Niger, about his life and his activities with the Guinea Worm Eradication Program. This interview is being conducted at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. The interviewer is Nancy Hilyer. To begin with I want to thank you on behalf of Dr. David J. Sencer who initiated this project to document oral histories from persons who have been instrumental in eradicating the Guinea worm in the world, and you are one of those persons. Will you please state your full name and state for the record that you know that you are being interviewed, that you are being recorded.
Salissou Kane (SK): Yes, my name is Mohammed Salissou Kane. And I accepted to respond to your questions.

NH: And you know that you are being recorded.
SK: And I know I am being recorded.
NH: Thank you, Salissou, thank you much. This is America, and you got to..You were born where in Niger?
SK: I was born somewhere called Maradi.
NH: How do you spell that?
SK: M-A-R-A-D-I
NH: Maradi, in Niger. In what year?
SK: In 1953.
NH: 1953. Can you tell me a little bit about Niger, culturally and politically, in those years when you were a child, in the ‘50’s?
1:45
SK: Well, the 50’s, it was the colonial period, of course, because the culture was independent only in 1960. So in ’53 we were still in the colonial period. And my father was working with the, of course, the systems administrative system. And as such I, even child, I traveled a lot in the country from one end to the other, because my father was moved from one place to other.
NH: What was he doing?
SK: Well, originally he was a teacher. And then - of course, at that time a teacher is good for many things - so he worked for the post office; he worked for the justice; he worked for the administration; and he ended up with the administration.
NH: So he was a civil servant? Is that correct?
SK: He was a civil servant, yes.
NH: So you did move around a lot.
SK: Yeah.
NH: Culturally or politically were things calm in Niger, or was there a lot of difficulty...politically?
SK: Well, actually I’m not a good politician. As you know, I’m best in my techniques (technical area?), but…. Currently there is some military coup that’s overthrown civil government.
NH: In the 50’s?
SK: Oh, no, in the 50’s…
NH: Oh, I was thinking about the 50’s or 60’s.
SK: When I was born I didn’t know, because I told you it was..
NH: You were going around with your father.
SK: ..it was the colonial period.
NH: In those years was it, was it calm in the country at that time? Or was there discord, or was there insecurity when your father was traveling around?
3:42
SK: There was no insecurity, I would say. But there were some, of course, some political people were fighting for power. And I knew that when I was in primary school there was two men, political tendency, the ADR (African Democratic Rally) was in power – good with French people - and the Sawaba was, of course, with the socialist people and who were practically chased out from out the country. And that was instability.
NH: But it didn’t affect you very much; personally you weren’t really aware.
SK: Not at all, because like I said, I was in primary school, and we had been traveling from one place to another. So I really didn’t realize what’s happening. I know that there are many songs saying that this, in showing the good affect of this party, and then some songs showing the bad affect on the other party. But that is all that I remember.
NH: Political rhetoric, just like we have today, right? So, when in ‘60 when liberation came, do you remember that at all, do you remember that period?
SK: Yes, I remember that there was some votes, because we saw the little ticket for the votes. And I know that my father was very busy the whole day at the..
NH: At the polls?
SK: At one of the polls, probably one of the number of the polls. But I know that he was very busy before and that day when they had this election.
NH: So did that go well? Was that an easy-
SK: Well, I guess it worked well for my father, because at least he came back home safely. And he was laughing at me.
NH: Oh wonderful, really. It was a good time. It was a celebration type of time.
SK: Yeah, yeah. But I really didn’t know who won, or what it is about. I just know that there was a lot of activity in the town I was in.
NH: And in your household it felt good?
6:03
SK: Yeah.
NH: Now what did you do as a little boy in the 50’s and the early 60’s? What was your life like?
SK: Well, like all the child of my age in a town like Zinder, because I was in Zinder at the time, I was just going to school and then going to play. And sometimes going to Arabic school, because we were doing both - like the days we don’t go to school we go to the marabout to learn a little bit of Arabic and how to pray. And the other days we went to school, and that’s how it goes. And then we have time to play as well.
NH: So, you are Muslim- that’s your faith?
SK: I am Muslim, yes.
NH: In Niger what percentage of people are Muslim? How does that break out?
SK: Well, the percentage is very high; I know it’s over 90%. But actually I cannot tell you exactly because everybody gives its own percentage. But I know it is over 90%.
NH: Is that right? Okay, as a child, were you even aware of Guinea worm as you moved around the country; did you ever see Guinea worm as a child?
SK: As a child when I was in fourth grade, yes. Because in fourth grade, I went in a small village near Zinder, matter of fact in Mirriah District which was one of the most endemic districts. So at school mostly in October/November when the school started, maybe third to one fourth to third of the class was empty And later on they decided to come one by one just because of Guinea worm; because they couldn’t come to school, and the school started. Some of them are in the same village; some are outside the village. So they have to heal before coming. So I know that some missed one to two months before really starting school.
8:15
NH: But you never had it yourself?
SK: No, no. Because my, in fact, at that time, I was with my brother, who was a director of the school, and at the school we have a well. We were drinking well water.
NH: Clean water.
SK: And then the village was about 20 kilometers from Zinder. So the weekend we’d go to Zinder. So we don’t really have time to drink water from that area. And then I came really after the rainy season, and then I left just beginning of the rainy season; so I didn’t have the chance to drink surface water over there. Then I was in the big city so I was drinking safe water. So that was the only thing that stopped me from having Guinea worm. Because if I have stayed there a whole year, I probably would to drink some water. Even if I didn’t it at drink at home, I might drink it at over a friend’s house and then have the Guinea worm.
NH: And no one had any idea about --?
SK: It was like a fatality at the time. If someone has a Guinea worm in that village it was considered as normal in that period of time.
9:26
NH: Sure. How has being a Muslim impacted your work in any way? Can you think of how your religion has impacted your work, has affected your work?
SK: Not really, I mean my studies probably affected my work. Because, as someone who studied environmental health, so it was just fitting with what I studied, not really my religion. My religion would help me to when I’m doing some health education to show that, for instance, Muslim religion start with the property you need to be sane, very proper. Before sat in prayer, for instance, you need your ablution, to wash your hands, to... and so on. And you have to do it with, clean water, safe water. So that was helping me when I was doing some health education to say even the religion wants you to have safe water even if you have to walk for five, ten minutes, one- half hour to get safe water, you better go there and get it. So that has helped me, but not really religion.
NH: Seems like that would be helpful. Now what oher, was Christianity, do you have many Christians, or is it traditional religions ?
SK: Yeah, we do have Christian mostly. It depends on the areas, for instance, in Zinder they do have some Christian, not too many. In Maradi they have a lot around Maradi area. And in Tera they have a lot of Christians as well. Those are some areas where they have a lot of Guinea worms and where I met Christians that were really helping as well.
NH: And as a Muslim or as a Christian it made no difference about your Guinea worm work, it doesn’t make any difference?
SK: It doesn’t really, no, no.
11:33
NH: What about your formal education, tell me about that.
SK: Yes, I was a –I have my bachelor degree in environmental health. And then I went to work for two years. I came back for my masters in environmental engineering.
NH: In Niger?
SK: No, iIn fact, in United States. I was in Michigan for my bachelor degree and in Boston for my masters for environmental engineering.
NH: At the University of Michigan? Or Michigan University?
SK: No, Tufts University. Tufts in Big Rapids, not Grand Rapids, but Big Rapids.
NH: So you have your masters degree in environmental engineering?
SK: Environmental Engineering, yes.
NH: About this time I assume you’re beginning to have a family. Are you married when you came over here and got your –
SK: When I finished my master then I went back. Then I thought it was time to now settle down. To get married, so I have one lovely wife and then four lovely children.
NH: Only one wife?
SK: Only one wife!
NH: It’s all you can afford?
SK: Only what I can afford. She is the only one who can love me enough to give me four children. *both laugh*
12:57
NH: So you have four children.
SK: Four blessed children.
NH: What ages are your children now, they are adults or?
SK: I have the two extremes – I have one that is about 21, 22, and the youngest is 11, (NH: 11) she is 11. (NH: Nice). I have three daughters and one boy.
NH: Perfect family, perfect family. What languages do you speak? I know you speak English, you speak Arabic obviously.
SK: No I don’t speak Arabic, I speak French, English, Hausa, and Zarma.
NH: French, English, Hausa, and…
SK: … and Zarma which is a native language in Niger.
NH: Is that the official native language, or just a native language?
SK: Well, the official language is French.
NH: The official language is still French?
SK: Yeah. That’s what I would say, we are a French speaking country. But Hausa is one of the native languages, Zarma is one, Fulfulde is one
NH: Fulfulde?
SK: Yes, Tamajeq,
NH: I suppose all of these languages are helpful in doing what you have done. You can communicate with so many different people.
SK: Yeah. In country I can communicate, besides the French and English, I can communicate with Hausa and Zarma.
NH: Sure, Did you ever do any other type of work other than health and public health?
SK: No I was always in health, sanitation, health.
14:45
NH: What was your, what was the impetus for going into public health? Do you remember what got you interested in public health?
SK: Well, there was one, somebody who was doing a lecture showing in the health, the medical health, the social health, and the preventive health. So that really impressed me. And I figured that if we really need to improve the sanitary situation of the community, it’s not trying to heal the person who is sick, but it’s trying to prevent the person to be sick. So I was with the Ministry of Health, like a trainee. I was with a sanitary engineer from WHO. I was doing some research on a filter - community filter with sand, gravel, and charcoal, with an aluminum container.
NH: For water, for safe water?
SK: For water, and we were using it in ’79, trying it, testing it in the Guinea worm communities. And so it started in ’78. And then that was so well appreciated that the Ministry of Health, when the USAID proposed some scholarships, said, this one deserves a scholarship to go to be in environmental health. And that is how I came to Michigan to get my bachelors in environmental health.
16:45
NH: So when you had that first contact when someone who gave a lecture, was that in high school, was that in your?
SK: Oh, no, no, no. I did already my, I finished my high school there.
NH: So those lectures were given when and where - that were so impressive to you about doing something in public health?
SK: I was in Abidjan, in Abidjan, and that was really what striked me.
NH: What was your first job in Guinea worm - or how did Guinea worm eradication in Niger,.. what was your first contact there? And then how did you get in contact with The Carter Center? What was your first involvement?
SK: OK, when I finished my bachelor’s degree I came to Niger at the Ministry of Health. And I was the Chief of the Division of Hygiene and Sanitation. As such we were involved; of course, the direction was involved with the Guinea worm. So one of the vice directors, the assistant director of the big direction, went twice for a meeting on Guinea worm. And in 1986, no, 80..1986 -right?
18:13
NH: I think so.
SK: When they had the meeting in Yemen I just came back from the United States after my masters. So I didn’t attend the meeting because I didn’t start working . But one of the directors assisted, and after two years there was one meeting; he went there. And one of my assistants as the Chief of Division of Hygiene and Sanitation went to a meeting in Ghana as well. And it was until 1990 when there was a Guinea worm meeting in Yamoussoukro that was my first contact with really the program. So I figured, in 1990, many countries were already in advance and I say, “How come we are really behind?” While I know that two people went to a meeting, and since then nothing happened. So when I came back I had the chance to meet for the first time Dr. Hopkins, Dr. Ernesto Ruiz. And when I came back, I talked to my colleagues, and I said, this program I’m really interested. And remember, at that time there was a Decade of Water and Sanitation. So we were as well involved because we were working together in collaboration with the Ministry of Water of Niger. So I get one of my colleagues from the Ministry of Water and say we have to do something about this disease. He says okay; he agrees, because we went to Yamoussoukro together. I had some funds from WHO. We went to do some pre-research, pre-case research, in the, in the, the files of the report of national information system. We went to all the, all the regions.
20:34
NH: In Niger?
SK: In Niger, so we find out that there are some areas as well that mentioned some Guinea worm cases. So these are the places we should start. So at one of the meetings we presented whatever we found as far as number of cases from this research. And then I had the opportunity to go back to the States for my PhD. When Ernesto..
NH: And left the Guinea worm program?
SK: Right, Ernesto said “Well, if you’re going, we heard that you are going back, please can you come to Atlanta. We are going to set at least national case search program before you leave.” I say, yes I can do that. So we came with Dr. Issam Najjar (?c.21:30) from WHO, Dr. Ernesto Ruiz, Karl Kappus. We set up the case search for 1991, and then UNICEF funded that. And in 1992 after we finished the case search, the Ministry of Health said, well, can you just postpone your study and you become the Director of Hygiene and Sanitation? So I say, if that is so, the country needs me. Well, I’ll have to wait a little bit. And we have the National case search around in 1991. And that’s when we end up having 33,000 cases within about 1,700 villages.
22:20
NH: So 1991, with thirty three hundred cases –
SK: Thirty three –
Both: ”thousand cases.”
NH: 33,000 cases. How many cases do you have today?
SK: Zero cases, except those imported from Mali and from Ghana.
NH: What a success story. What a success story.
SK: Zero indigenous cases; you can tell that I’m happy to say zero indigenous cases.
NH: What a contribution to mankind, really you’ve had.
22:53
NH: The world seems to be divided into groups or tribes created by religions, and politics, and geography. What role do you think that ethnic, tribal, or racial discrimination has played as an obstacle in the interruption of Guinea worm in Niger?
SK: Well, the only thing I would say is not really related to tribes or religion. It is just related to literacy. The last area where we have cases are mainly, I would say almost ninety-nine percent illiterate people. And that is one of the things. To change behavior is very difficult and, come to think about it, those people, we had to get village volunteers and then some other people from the same ethnical group to really intensify health education. And even creating some music from the same ethnical group, the same musician, to convey the message. That’s really how we end up with this group. Which I would understand they don’t have water around, and they are nomadic people, so we have to follow them from one end to the other. If they come outside the country we say, okay, Mali here they come, and that is how we really get rid of the disease. With all the filters.
24:50
NH: The filters were your major intervention?
SK: Exactly, the filters and the ABATE.
NH: And the ABATE?
SK: If we know a case is in an area and we are not sure if entered or he didn’t enter. If there is any doubt, we treat the water. And that helped, and everybody got filters, and we changed the filters very often because one tiny hole could make the difference.
NH: Your filters were on, oh, to the household, you were talking about household filters, and so you went to distribute them every six months or something.
SK: According to the usage, because we end up not having a filter distribution campaign but a replacement of filter. Filters are in the community with a village based volunteer, and whenever he sees one hole in the filter he changes it.
25:52
NH: Security, did you ever have Security problems in Niger during your Guinea worm eradication campaigns?
SK: Well, myself, no. But sometime we were in an area and the people even ask us to leave quickly the area. And when we leave, the following day we hear that there were some insecurity situations.
NH: Conflicts between..?
SK: Somebody came to kill someone and so on, so on, yeah.
NH: It was just personal conflicts.
SK: Personal conflicts or maybe some people who want to get the animals, to steal the animals, and so on.
NH: Cattle raiding or something of that sort?
SK: Right, right, right.
NH: But you sort of knew ahead, everybody sort of knows if, on the ground, kind of what is happening.
SK: Well, depends, if they, these people, they know each other. And sometimes they have rumors to say, well, there is one group which is here. And if it is a day of a big market in the neighborhood they don’t want us to be there like after one or two . They always ask us to quickly retreat to go in the big town. Because after three or four, maybe the people when they come back from the market, they might get attacked, so they don’t want us to be around.
NH: Really? They did that for your protection, for your safety?
27:20
SK: Yeah, because like they said, the first time they see, they saw some medical kits, that’s with Guinea worm. Even the immunization didn’t go in those community. They are so far away from the villages. Only Guinea worm went over there with filters, with treatment, with medical kits. and so on.
NH: Did they come to trust the Guinea worm people? Did they come to trust your intentions?
SK: They kind of, thanking us. Because since we started the program they see a better life, because a lot of them didn’t have Guinea worm. And then with our intervention the Ministry of Health is intervening with the Ministry of Water so they can get some water. Even though they think if, it is, it will, just by their own, maybe they will say ten more years they would have a hand pump well over there. But with the program we can negotiate with some of the partners and then they will get water. So they really thank the programs for that, yeah.
NH: Is that right? What is the status of clean drinking water in Niger now?
SK: What do you mean?
NH: Is it much better than it was ten years ago?
SK: Yeah, of course, it is always improving. And mostly now we have some specific programs with the Guinea worm or formerly Guinea worm endemic areas. So we have some partners like some Japanese who will come and give some water. But overall we have some areas where formerly endemic villages, about 97% have water. And some areas it goes around 45% to 50%.
NH: But it’s better. What about your colleagues from The Carter Center, who were other technical advisors that you worked with in Niger - the Resident Technical Advisors.
29:33
SK: Oh, okay, we had Sabu who is now in Zinder with trachoma. But he was, first of all, he was regional Guinea worm in Zinder when it was the most endemic area. And then he went to study in Nigeria. When he come, came back he was in Tillaberi which was the last region to have Guinea worm until the end of the program.
NH: And what is his name again?
SK: Sabu Hassan.
NH: Sabu Hassan, and he is Nigerian? I mean Nigerien.
SK: He is Nigerien. So he was an environmental technician as well. And then he went to Nigeria for his Masters in Community Health. And there was another one who was just like him, a Sanitary Technician; however, he unfortunately died last year. And he was in charge of Zinder. -Now Sabu replaced him. And himself, he was Guinea worm in, as Ministry of Health staff in Guinea worm in Dosso where he eliminated the disease. He established (?c.30:57) interruption and there in Maradi when he stopped there transmission as well.
NH: What was his name?
SK: His name was Ali.
NH: Ali?
SK: Ali Amadou.
31:09
NH: Ali Amadou, and how did he die?
SK: He got some brain hemorrhage, and he died.
NH: Just got sick and died?
SK: Yes.
NH: What about from The Carter Center? Did you ever have any resident technical advisors?
SK: Yes, we had a lot of technical advisors who came sometimes for six month(s), sometimes for two months according to the,..and we had some Peace Corps as well who helped us a lot from Zinder, and Maradi, and Tillaberi.
NH: Who were – Do you remember who the technical advisors were from the Carter Center?
SK: Oh many of them - even, this girl, this lady, Stephanie, was in Tillaberi. Just Stephanie she was there as a..
NH: Was Jim Zingeser there?
SK: Jim Zingeser, he was the resident technical advisor before I came.
NH: Oh, he was there before you came.
SK: Yes, he was the one, in fact, who hired me because I was at WHO. When I finished, when I left the Ministry of Health I went to WHO Niamey. And after two or three years I came back with The Carter Center. And he was technical advisor at that time.
NH: So he left, and did they send anyone else in to work with you?
SK: No when he left I took that –
NH: That job?
SK: Yeah.
NH: and had that for the rest of the program?
SK: Right, and we were in contact with all the country
NH: So Jim Zingeser is actually the only other resident technical advisor before you.
SK: Before him there was Leslie. Leslie, she was the one who opened the secretariat in 1993. And in 1995 Jim came, Jim Zingeser came.
NH: And then after you…you didn’t need, you stayed with it until…

SK: Yes.
33:15
NH: Tell me about some of the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them. What were the big challenges in Niger with getting rid of Guinea worm ?
SK: Well, the big challenge was, like I said, the last community. At first we didn’t know, we had, if we have a village we say, well we choose somebody, one or two people, from the village, to say, well,you are the village volunteers, and you have to take care of the hamlets around the hamlet. But what we figured one day is that we came to the village and the village volunteers say, oh, there are no cases. And I happen to be accompanied by the daughter of one of the dignitary Tamajeq , the Tuareg people. And somebody came to her and say “hey, we have some cases; come, there are two cases over there.” We went to this hamlet, and we see two cases. And then they say that is not all, there are some other over there. By the end of the day we registered eighty-five cases that these Djerma people saw that people didn’t even know about it. And those people never dared to come to tell them that they have Guinea worm, plenty of Guinea worm, just because they are not from the same ethnical group . And then we understood that from now on we have to select the village volunteers in each ethnical group and to make sure that the work is done.
NH: Very interesting..
SK: And this has happened a lot.
NH: They didn’t communicate among themselves.
SK: No, no. And if you give them filters, they say “that’s for the village” so they just give to the ethnical group, or (?c.35:05).
NH: Their own group.
SK: Yeah, so we have to explain to them, “Listen, we have some social life.” If somebody has a baby over there, if you go for the baptism . Then the first thing that we do in Africa is to give you water, so if..
NH: They give you water?
SK: Water, so if you go to socialize they give you water. And if you didn’t give them the filter that could have filtered the water you will still end up having Guinea worm even though you are filtering the water. So that is how we are showing them how to share the filters with other communities. And one other thing that really strikes those people,if some of them are threshing, let’s say we use a filter, we filter the water and the filtrate we put it in clear glass and clear water, we show them what they drink if they don’t forget to water. So even if despite even the disease if they see all those junk going around in the glass, they say “We are drinking all this?” This is what you are drinking if you don’t filter the water. So that has helped a lot for the usage of filter(s).
36:14
NH: That sounds like something that would make an impression. What a wonderful education, wonderful education.
SK: Exactly.
NH: Is there one toughest thing in Niger in getting rid of Guinea Worm? Was there one thing that was more difficult than anything else?
SK: Well, if you don’t have the cooperation of the cases mostly. Because to know where the origin of transmission sometimes is very difficult. Because mostly towards the end they know that everybody has understood that they have to filter the water. Being in Niger or outside Niger they have to filter the water. Even if they don’t have filters they can use their clothes, their own coat rack (?c.37:06) and they know that their filters are free. They can get it and they can even get those filters that they can travel with. Now despite that they end up having filters they are probably ashamed to say, well, I got it from this place and this place. But you still got it, but they will never tell you. Mostly they’re traveling. The last cases, they will..they.. one of them didn’t tell us where he got it. He always said, no, I got it here. And we say, well, here you see you are the only one with a case, with a Guinea worm. And we understand that you go very often to Mali. And every time when we look for you in the village you are not there; we find you at the border between Niger and Mali, and you very often go to Mali. All what we want to let us know where did you go in Mali, where you saw a case of Guinea worm and you drank water without filtering. But he refused. And sometimes we have to wait until the following year, and then the person tells the truth.
38:11
NH: He didn’t tell you because he knew he had done wrong?
SK: Exactly.
NH: Really, so he knew he had drunk water someplace and wasn’t supposed to have.
SK: He has a case, and because it’s not hidden, but he never wanted to tell us where he…
NH: These are the Tuaregs that I have read about. They wear the blue, wear the blue. So they’re Guinea worm free now?
SK: Well, now they’re free, but if because in Mali they have a lot of cases and all of those bordering Niger and the cases are from this community. In the Ansongo (Mali) area, Ansongo District, they are all Tuaregs, and they go back in forth in Niger. So far their transmission is interrupted .
NH: Is interrupted. The Tuaregs, do they have citizenship in Niger or Mali? Do they choose one or do they not..
SK: Yeah, they have citizenship.
NH: One or the other?
SK: At the border there they are from both the two countries. If it is for a good thing, they are for that country. If it is for a bad thing, they are for the other country.
NH: So they have dual citizenship?
SK: Yeah, but normally they have one citizenship. But you know at the border you never know where the border starts and where it ends. But they do have citizenship.
NH: They are an interesting grouping, aren’t they?
SK: Exactly.
NH: Interesting grouping. Has your being in public health, how has that affected your family? I am just thinking about your twenty year old, twenty two, twenty year old? Daughter, is that the daughter?
SK: Well, when she was a child there was a, as soon as they see Dr. Alhousseini Maiga coming from WHO coming to my house. They say “Oh papa you are going to travel?” They know that we are going into field. Or if I stay there ten days, two weeks at home they say, well, how come you didn’t travel for that long? So they are used to seeing me going back and forth. If I don’t go back and forth they will think that something is wrong. *laughs*
NH: Do you think any of them will follow you in public health?
SK: I hope so; I don’t know; it’s possible. But there are some of them who are really into it, mostly the kids. There is one, she wants to be a doctor, so maybe, maybe she will be in public health.
NH: Now before we stop, are there any other things that you’d like to talk about for the record?
40:58
SK: Yeah. There is one situation where, that really helped the program. That was in those Tamajeq community. When we started to hospitalize the cases. So there was one case and we wanted to take her into health center and hospitalize her. At the beginning she was okay, but the husband said, “No.” So we were lucky, we were with one of the chiefs of the community. He just asked us to leave him with those, the family and to go and do our supervision. When we finish we come back. By then he finish talking. He has to convince this person to let his wife go seek the medication and (?c.41:52) treatment. It took him the whole day. When we came finally they agreed; he said yes his wife can come. When we went to this health center she is hospitalized, and then every day she got something for her food. And by the end of the week, by the following week, she got enough and she saved enough money to buy some food, some rice, to send it to her husband to say, to tell him to, he can feed her children. So he said he was so happy that he said could come back with a vehicle because now he has to be next to his wife because how come she is making such money, such a way that she can even send food at home. And you know within those communities the information goes so fast that in that area up to the border of Mali everybody knew that if you are hospitalized you will make enough money to send food back home. So that’s how whenever you have case, if you say “Oh, we have to hospitalize you,” everybody says “Yes, I agree.” And that helps the program a lot and that year we hospitalized ninety of all cases.
43:11
NH: Ninety five per cent of all of your..
SK: Of the cases we met in that area.
NH: Is that right?
SK: Yes, that helped a lot
NH: You know that worked so well in that area, but I’ve heard in other countries it didn’t work well. For some reason people really resisted going to the containment centers .
SK: Well it depends, like we have this incentive, they knew that this lady who barely was refused by her husband. And luckily the chief of the group spent the whole day convincing him. And she got the bright idea to say, well, he is back home with the children; take him some food. And she bought – she saved money to buy the food for her family and that really helped a lot.
NH: She is another hero of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program, isn’t she?
SK: She is; she really is. And I think one day I will go there and take her picture, if she is still there and then maybe write something on her..
NH: Write her and send it to me.
SK: She really helped the program…
NH: I would think so.
44:16
SK: as far as the hospitalization is concerned, and all the community, and nothing better (?c.44:20) than a community.
NH: That’s a beautiful story.
SK: It really helped a lot.
NH: If you have any other stories of the field, in the field that would be..
SK: I have a bunch of them, but the two, really the two main stories I was really (?c.44:41) – one when we discovered the eighty, more than eighty cases and that was the same community but in the other side of the river. And then here the lady who really accepted it to be hospitalized and then to send...really make our program work, our hospitalization program work.
NH: That’s a beautiful story, beautiful story Salissou, thank you.
SK: Thank you, Nancy.
NH: Thank you so much for the time and sharing your story, and your perspective, and for leaving a record for future generations.
SK: Thank you, Nancy. I know that I didn’t do half of what you did, you and your husband, but we are together.
NH: We are very much together, and you did way, Way - good job Salissou. No cases in Niger today.
SK: No indigenous cases.
NH: No indigenous cases. Keep me honest.
*laughs*
SK: Right. Thank you.
NH: Thank you.
END 45:48