BY JOHANNES MARISA
There was unfortunate news that private practitioners were profiteering from Covid-19 patients. Such statements are uttered by people who have not been admitted in private health facilities due to Covid-19.
Those who have survived on oxygen agree with me that it is a difficult order to acquire oxygen and the costs involved are unbearable. Many items are required in Covid-19 fight with continuous PPE, drugs, wages and allowances which make it hard to manage Covid-19 patients.
Many lives continue to be lost to the stubborn virus and the bereavement pain continues to linger in our brains. For sure, many people will require counseling at some point considering the posttraumatic stress disorders, the depression and trauma of great magnitude emanating from the consequences of Covid-19.
Medical personnel has stood tall to defend the country from the brutality of Covid-19. This is the time to give high recognition to our resilient health workforce.
Life has not been easy for many as even prominent health professionals have succumbed to the diabolical virus in a short space of time. Everyday, we wake up to the news of some prominent people having succumbed to the virus. The ignorant people think that Covid-19 is for the rich only, no, it is only that the poor are not publicised when they die.
There are so many people who are collapsing in their homes especially in the rural areas and the unfortunate part is the advanced lack of knowledge about the Covid-19. The threat posed by the monstrous virus, there are disturbing scenarios of people who seem not perturbed by the scourge yet lives continue to be lost.
Covid-19, like a terrorist war, does not need a lot of bureaucratic protocols but mere tenacious determination to nip it in the bud. There should be flexibility and tolerance at this juncture from all the stakeholders who include government, regulatory bodies, councils, other organisations that have to do with Covid-19 control.
We have encountered numerous deaths which are directly attributed to intolerance, poor planning and stiffling regulations. We have encountered problems when BOC has refused to give oxygen cylinders to some private clinics because they are not registered Covid-19 centres.
How many people have been assisted at the very same places when the Covid-19 centres are overwhelmed to this extent? We need help from all corners. Today it is me and tomorrow it is you to require assistance!
The third wave has proven to be the deadliest so far in our country if both morbidity and mortality are taken into consideration. Our rural people need assistance at this juncture if Covid-19 is to be averted as their traditionalistic attitude and behavior are significantly fueling both morbidity and mortality.
Covid-19 is a reality and its teeth are ready to chew each and every flesh. All of us have at least a dear companion or a relative and the pain is unbearable. Let us not be like Brazil which has constantly lost thousands on a daily basis. The loathsome virus will surely hit us heavily with many casualties. Zimbabwe has faired well in terms of Covid-19 vaccines with importation of more than 3 million vaccines so far. The private practitioners have since been involved in the vaccination processes but some bottlenecks have to be scrapped if we are to be fast as a country.
Many unnecessary regulations that derail medical treatments should be shelved to allow our people quick access to medications. Health workforce has tried to contain the virus and it is my belief that medical care can be delivered anywhere as long as patient can get assistance because virtually all hospitals, clinics and surgeries are overwhelmed . Lessons continue to be learnt and some of them are the following:
n That Covid-19 is going to be with us for some time as the world faces the 4th wave today. Countries that scrapped restrictions are now in hot pans again with USA now starting to record more than 100 000 cases daily. The circle seems to be starting again. It is our behaviour and attitude that determine our destination in terms of containment and mitigation.
n Humbleness is what is required if one is to succeed on Covid-19. There are many patients who want to be on top of qualified medical professionals merely because they come from rich families or the elite groups. I have noted with concern that the same patients discard important advice but the virus shows no boundaries. Many have ended up succumbing to the virus which could have been averted by merely following medical advice. There should be respect for each and every profession so that those who are experts in a particular field are allowed to discharge their duties.
n Discipline and compliance with the stipulated public health measures are very necessary if we are to be at a gratifying position. It is sad to note that the virus is now moving like whirlwind, with virtually all towns and cities sending distress calls. The unfortunate part is that despite all these infections, the general populace is not as serious as they were during the second wave, raising fears that we may be heading for a medical catastrophe.
The mistakes that people are making are that they assume that the concortions which were used during the previous two waves, are effective this time. This is proving to be fatal with dismal failure of even the social media-circulated prescriptions.
Many patients are progressing to develop hypoxia, a condition where oxygen levels drop to unprecedented levels. The third wave should not allow your oxygen level to slid to below 88% without medical intervention. It will be disaster because of potential of further sudden desaturation. Further delays will culminate in patients requiring high pressure oxygen or even ventilation.
n Diabetes Mellitus is a very serious comorbidity with Covid-19 and it is difficult to manage diabetics over the phone.
They desaturate very fast. Upon suspecting Covid-19 in diabetics, take all the necessary steps to control their sugar levels and keep them well hydrated.
n Vaccination should be upscaled. The world is already facing the 4th wave with the Middle East already in hot pan. Countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh are hit hard now while our country is still caught in the third wave. This is the right time for vaccination and to lessen the burden on councils and government health workers, government has now moved to allow private medical practitioners to start administering the jabs to the masses, however, the logistical processes of acquiring the vaccines should be eased. The vaccination is not for personal gain but for a national interest.
n Funerals are superspreaders. Funerals are showing a positive correlation with both morbidity and mortality although there may be a lot of co-founders. What I observed at a recent rural funeral was that very few people actually observed the stipulated public health guidelines which is a recipe for further medical catastrophe. We risk losing many of our rural folks if ignorance is still as rampant as it is now. How can we flatten the epidemiological curve if our people are not putting on masks, not observing social distancing among other measures.
n Third wave requires medical expertise. What is taking many lives during the third wave is delay in seeking treatment with many people only willing to seek medical attention when complications are already present. We no longer need self-isolation with delta variant but assisted isolation.
The assumption that Covid-19 is treated the same way as last time is misleading. The delta variant is merciless and it seems to resist so many common treatments hence putting the lives of many in danger. Patients with comorbidities should not self-treat themselves as they have a high tendency of sudden deterioration. Diabetes, obesity, heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension are all a thorn in the flesh. Many patients whom we see in bad states require oxygen because of respiratory distress syndrome.
n Good medical advice saves nations. Many countries have moved back and forth with measures aimed at containing the virus. I wonder why countries with high casualties like Brazil, South Africa do not want to stick to basic public health principles yet their people are dying in numbers. South Africa moved to ease restrictions but that is merely shooting itself in the feet. Watch what is going in three weeks to come. Both Britain and South Africa will face mesmerising moments in few days with the virus forcing new restrictions sooner than later.
The 4th wave has already started and many mutant strains of the virus are already in circulation. What is needed is a protracted and sustained solution to the pandemic and not the confused piece-meal strategies that seem to experiment with human life. Many lives continue to be lost in South Africa and if the trend continues that way, then thousands more will not wake up to see the year 2022.
n Respect medical personnel. Many people have ill-conceived beliefs that with the use of the internet, they can now match medical staff in terms of knowledge which is surely impossible. Internet has provided so many treatment modalities but one should realise that treatments differ based on the specific presentation, age, race or time. It is thus my advice that medical staff be allowed to execute their duties with impunity. Consult if you are not sure of what is supposed to be done.
As a routine reminder, please let us not forget about the following:
n That many people are now neglecting public health measures like social distancing, masking up, hand-washing, sanitisation which may breed more misery in few days to come. It is your duty to promote health and masking up is not to evade police arrest but for your benefit.
We ought to remain alert as a nation but mere observation of what is happening especially in the high density. We want to avoid a health care system catastrophe with unbearable number of cases and deaths hence the need to flatten the epidemiological curve while raising the line.
We risk losing all aged rural folks or those with cormobidities like Diabetes Mellitus.
- This is the time for robust health education. Moreso, testing should be enhanced especially in rural areas where funerals are now rampant. Media should play critical roles in information dissemination. Many people are complacent yet the virus is ravaging across the country and it is not good news for rural areas where there is stuttering health delivery.The way people are now behaving in Zimbabwe leaves a lot to be desired with some arguing that there is no more Covid-19 in the country. Remember Covid-19 causes septic shock, thrombo-embolism, renal impairment, respiratory distress syndrome and complicated patients would require oxygen or ventilation.
.Assume that all flu is Covid-19 until proven otherwise. Please report symptoms early and be suspicious when you have a sore throat, cough, hot body, headache, loss of taste, joint pains, fatigability, loss of smell among others. All age groups are in trouble with the delta variant.
Keep yourself safe. This is the time to be alert about the symptoms and signs of Covid-19. Avoid deterioration of the situation at the moment. Let us save ourselves from this scourge!