Lot Dzonzi: I salute all medical and health staff and their auxiliary staff
* Let’s respect the frontline healthcare staff—Patricia Namanyada Mwase
* We still do have ‘angels’ around us that make our worst experience manageable
* As a healthcare worker, this recognition is worth way more than anything I would ever wish for—Prof. Mac Mallewa
* I agree with your testimony! God bless the frontline staff
By Duncan Mlanjira
There has been lots of wretched and pitiful stigma against COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers across the country that is leading to some of them being psychologically and physically abused.
This is despite pleas from the authorities to respect the noble duty these citizens are rendering and just on Tuesday, a driver for Kasungu District Hospital was badly assaulted in Liwonde as he delivered the dead body of Bishop Koloko of Living Waters Church.
The Bishop is reported to have died in Kasungu of related COVID-19 complications but his kinsfolk in Liwonde did not believe it, saying their relation didn’t die of the disease and assaulted the innocent healthcare workers who brought the remains for burial.
The people are alleged to have demanded that the healthcare workers should not carry out the burial as according to COVID-19 protocols.
This incident, and many more that have gone unreported, had vexed the health authorities — who have pleaded with the members of the public to stop this barbaric behaviour.
Despite all the abuse they have been faced with, they continue with their task and most people who had first hand experience of COVID-19 services on themselves and on their relations, have taken to social media to testify the noble work healthcare workers are rendering.
Most of them work on longer-than-normal shifts because of their small numbers against an influx of patients on a daily basis in this second wave of the pandemic.
One of them is Patricia Namanyada Mwase, the wife to the legendary and extraordinaire artist, late Frank Patani Mwase, who — in honouring one month since the passing on of her “best friend of 24 years as husband and wife, and 28 years of being friends” — took upon herself to say kind words on the services she and Mwase experienced from frontline healthcare.
“I have a very different picture of frontline healthcare staff,” she said on Facebook. “I dub the front line staff the Angels amongst us.
“I salute frontline staff and may God continue protecting them. Let’s respect the frontline staff.”
Namanyada Mwase goes on to recount the hours she had from being admitted at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre from January 14 to the next day when the legend succumbed to COVID-19 complications.
In all the narrative — which Towera Masiku said Patani himself would have described it as a ‘good read’ — Namanyada Mwase’s emphasis was how “responsive; caring; acknowledging; assuring; very helpful; always updating on progress” and most of all “frontline staff allowed me to say my good bye to my friend of 28 years and a husband of 24 years”.
She said when they arrived at Queens Hospital COVID-19 treatment units, they were welcome by the frontline staff (male), who assured them to remain calm as they finished attending to some patients and within minutes they were assisting them — “front line staff: our presence was immediately acknowledged”.
Oxygen level and blood pressure were checked. Oxygen levels were low but the staff assured her while smiling “he will be fine”. “I trusted his experience — frontline staff: giving truthful information at the same time assuring”.
Later they run out of oxygen and they were told they were waiting for refills and when she asked of the implications, she was told “risky, but let us not despair” — frontline staff: upfront but assuring.
Namanyada Mwase sourced some oxygen from her own sources but after some minutes, it was replaced by another and without enquiring why, a female front-line staff informed her they had to change the gadget she sourced because it was not powerful enough. — “Frontline staff; always updating on progress.”
The results came and were COVID-19 positive. The doctor had assured that if Patani’s oxygen levels pick up to normal without oxygen assistance, they might be allowed to recuperate at home.
But Namanyada Mwase said Patani declined the offer, saying: “No, I would rather be at the hospital for their observation”. “He trusted the hospital — Frontline staff: trusted more by the patient.”
When Patani’s condition changed to worst the hospital staff paid more attention to him in various ways and seeing that he was losing the battle, Namanyada Mwase asked if she could hold her “husband and friend, they told me go ahead”.
“I held his head and prayed his favorite prayer which he used to say ‘self contained prayer’ — our Lord’s Prayer which other guardians joined. Frontline staff allowed me to say my good bye to my friend of 28 years and a husband of 24 years.”
She concluded to say when he died, the family agreed to dress him up as a Tonga — he should go as a Tonga. “In my 24 years he would be a pure Tonga as he goes to St Columba CCAP.”
When their gardener heard the news, he asked for his shoes and polished them to the shiniest shine — “a Tonga he went”.
The post attracted massive responses and likes with Emily Kasakula saying this is inspiring first hand information about “the amazing work the frontline staff are doing every day under very difficult and disheartening circumstances”.
“And this is from one that has lost a very important part of her life but still finds it befitting to appreciate all the great work and sacrifices of our healthcare staff.
“May you find comfort in God’s promise of a reunion with all our loved ones who preceded us into the Realms of the Departed. Hugs to you, my dear sister and friend Patricia Namanyada Mwase — as your dear friend and beloved husband, our Frank P. Mwase continues to rest in God’s perfect peace.”
Justin Mponda applauded Namanyada Mwase for sharing her experience, concurring with her that “we still do have ‘angels’ around us that make our worst experience manageable. And these ones just come at the right time. Big thank you to our frontliners for your invaluable service to the people”.
Chris Kam’mayani also said this was a “very touching testimony that paints a great picture of the work being done by the frontliners. We appreciate them”.
Sithe Kandodo said: “I have read it two times with a drop of a tear in my eyes. My whole attention was on the frontline staff. I can see how they helped you. I feel bad many are insulting them. God strengthen your children.”
Professor Mac Mallewa, Principal of College of Medicine, said: “You have no idea how many times I have read your story, Patricia — very inspiring. As a healthcare worker, this recognition is worth way more than anything I would ever wish for.”
On February 9, former Inspector General of Police, Lot Dzonzi, who is also a former diplomat, posted a picture of himself in a salute mode with the caption:
“I salute all medical and health staff and their auxiliary staff working in the COVID-19 frontline throughout Malawi. You are God’s gift for Malawi at this critical time. I love you all and thank you for everything you are doing for us.
All the commentators to the post said they were joining him in saluting them. “They are our Heroes!” said Robin Nyang’wa.
Just last week, the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 indicated that the violent aggression towards healthcare is originating from fake and misinformation that are being circulated by some misguided individuals.
The Taskforce applauded all healthcare workers, who are showing high level of dedication and hard work in the management of patients, contact tracing, testing, risk communication and community engagement and in ensuring that logistics and supplies are available at all levels.