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We’re shooting ourselves in the foot on covid-19 pandemic

OPINION
By Dr Mercy Korir | April 6th 2020

Health workers at the Coast General Hospital in protective gear. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

The frontline reporting on coronavirus, so far, has been a mix of bad days and worse days.

Some news items are shocking while others are outright preposterous. Finding a balance between being forthright and not alarming induces sleepless nights.

If it is not crunching the numbers globally and locally, it is making sense of that one person that stopped being a coronavirus statistic.

The days are often marked by people labelled as suspected cases airing their grievances, concerns, fears and hopes in the confines of mandatory quarantine centres, an unpleasant experience for many. Those in quarantine at home have had an easier experience, though psychologically weighty.

My colleagues in the medical profession, being human like everyone else, have not been spared either. One meeting with a high-risk person and just like that, your life as you knew it changes. A list of the people you have met since flashes before your very eyes and you wonder if you have put your family at risk.

The most upsetting thing, however, is on five-second retrospection, one realises that the loopholes have been there all along, from persons who are supposed to provide you with protective equipment to persons who were supposed to have planned and reorganised the work flows in the hospital. Quite frankly now, there is no telling who your next high-risk patient will be.

But are the duty bearers not rising to the occasion?

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Well, when I hear the frustrations that they have because of things not just moving the way they ought to, I also get frustrated. Bottlenecks and barriers line the path of a response that shouldn’t be rocket science. Is it being more academic and theoretical as opposed to managing and responding to people’s concerns?

Are they treating the disease and not the person? If we are looking at this as a disease, a case rather than people whose lives in a day involve more than having a disease, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot. They have money to worry about, children, debts, goats and chicken in their farms that need to be attended to.

And then, there are the stakeholders, who have seen an opportunity to make a name and more so some money out of the pandemic or just to do good for society. I wonder whether their intentions and hearts are in the right place, or whether some are there to milk as much out of a bad situation.

All these issues are bearable, I guess, until my day is filled with people grieving because their loved ones could not get healthcare. Everything seems to have come to a standstill because of coronavirus pandemic.

“My primary school teacher was buried last Monday after dying on Sunday.” The man had lived with cancer for a while, but in this season, palliative care was not readily available. He died alone, to be buried by a few.

“Daktari, if the ferry is not operating at night, I am worried about mothers on the other side of the ferry who might need emergency services and will be unable to access Mombasa,” a fellow doctor told me immediately the curfew and the chaos around it began.

It didn’t take long for those worries to come true, although this was not in the coastal region. Mothers lost their lives as they attempted home delivery at night for fear of venturing outside lest the police clobber them.

Every single day there is something that will be so heartbreaking. The collateral damage from coronavirus pandemic eats into your psyche and there is no way to ‘unhear’, ‘unsee’ or unlearn.

You just have to prep for another day, and do it all over again.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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