The African women journalists network "Les Panafricaines" condemns with the utmost firmness the insulting, racist remarks made on the air of the news channel, LCI, on April 1, 2020 by Professor Jean-Paul Mira, Head of the Intensive Care Unit at Cochin Hospital.
Interrogated by Professor Camille Locht, Research Director at Inserm on the subject: «Covid-19 treatment: Avenues for BCG Vaccine», Jean-Paul Mira asks the following question: "If I can be provocative, shouldn't this study be done in Africa, where there is no mask, no treatment, no intensive care, a little like it has been done for some studies on AIDS, where prostitutes were asked to try things because we know they are highly exposed and they don’t protect themselves. What do you think?"
Professor Locht endorsed these words by replying: "You are right, and besides that we are thinking about a study in Africa, precisely to do this same type of approach with BCG, a placebo." Thus, it is simply proposed and approved by the interlocutor, to use Africa as a laboratory and, therefore, Africans as guinea pigs on which experiments would be carried out.
Demonstrating a total ignorance of African realities and in a shameless condescending approach, Jean Paul Mira uses clichés to present a caricature of a continent where people would not protect themselves, where there would be nothing: «no masks, no treatment, no intensive care.»
We ask Professor Mira to question his colleagues from the hospitals of France who are sure to remind him that what he says about the African continent is, in fact, valid for the country in which he operates. That there are only 7,000 beds in intensive care when Germany has 27,000; that Parisian hospital staff are in dire need of masks and that, to conclude, no country in the world has, for the moment, appropriate treatment to combat this unprecedented pandemic.
Africa and its people have no lessons to learn from these kind of individuals. Whatever their difficulties, Africans approach them with dignity and draw their strength from their convictions.
Jean-Paul Mira's comments cannot be considered as a mistake. By starting his question with "if I can be provocative", Jean-Paul Mira is perfectly aware of the scandalous and, therefore, reprehensible significance of his words. No excuse can be found for him, just like Professor Locht who begins his response by agreeing with his interviewee.
We note with satisfaction the reaction of the management board of the Paris Hospitals in an update published yesterday on their site in which, Martin Hirsch, its Director says he is "shocked" by the words. We therefore, cannot accept the apologies and regrets that are expressed by Jean-Paul Mira.
Furthermore, we express our surprise at the press release from Inserm, which says the video published on several social networks is "truncated" when it has not been subjected to any editing or alteration of any kind.
We ask the LCI channel to assume its responsibilities as a broadcaster and call on the French regulatory authority, the Superior Council of Audiovisual, guarantor of the fight against discrimination, so that it takes the necessary measures to call LCI firmly in order.
Les Panafricaines, the network of African women journalists, which brings together hundreds of journalists across the 54 countries of the continent and African journalists working in other media worldwide has its headquarters in Casablanca, Morocco. The network's mission is to contribute to a citizen awareness on the responsibility of media and their role in building public opinion.