Since the Jamaican Ministry of Health confirmed the first case of the Zika Virus — already declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization — last month, there have been widespread concerns in Jamaica about an outbreak.
In truth, the country was completely under-prepared for the Chikungunya virus which brought the entire Caribbean region to its knees in 2014. Many will remember the “Chikungunya Song” voiced at the time by a kid from Waterhouse, Kingston, Wayne J. It raised awareness about the symptoms and managements of the virus and the world caught on, as the video went viral (literally and figuratively), perhaps saving some lives in the process. The latter part is crucial, since the Jamaican Ministry of Health were widely criticized for lacking leadership and transparency during a time of crisis. (No shade, but then-Health Minister Fenton Ferguson was removed from the Ministry shortly after the Chik-v spread).
This time around, the Ministry have adapted their response. Enlisting the help of creative obstetrician and gynecologist Michael Abrahams, they have unveiled a short, catchy and comedic PSA inna ’80s dancehall style entitled “We Nuh Want Zik V.”
When he is not practicing medicine, Abrahams is also a songwriter and comedian who has performed on The Ity & Fancy Cat Show and Smile Jamaica, and is revered down a yaad, and in the diaspora, for his sunny and refreshingly honest persona. “The Singing Doctor” has previously addressed sociopolitical issues and topics in songs such as “Jamaica 50” and “What A Gwahn Inna Jamaica,” making him a perfect candidate to spread awareness about this latest topic of concern.
Despite the Jamaican government’s lack of effort when it comes to championing reggae and dancehall, there is a long history of such music being incorporated into various political campaigns and agendas. It’s been that way since the 1970s, and is certainly a smart and engaging way to communicate with the people, as “We Nuh Want Zik V” shows once more.