By Duncan Mlanjira
President Lazarus Chakwera has announced the introduction of a special award, Zikomo Presidential Award, to be given as a token of thanks to the most dedicated health care workers.
The President announced this on Saturday during his weekly national address in which he was reporting on the status of the country’s fight against the Coronavirus pandemic after meeting the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to assess the situation.
He said despite the worrisome increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, there is a bright side and nearly half of those found with the virus have already recovered fully.
“This is largely a credit to our health care workers, who have bravely put themselves at risk to test hundreds of people every day, giving quarantine guidelines to those who are found positive and providing care to those in need of hospitalization.
“These health care champions are doing this against many odds, including depressing working conditions, depleted medical supplies, and deteriorating health facilities caused by years of neglect.”
The President gave an example of Balaka District Hospital whose kitchen caught fire on Thursday due to faulty and substandard electrical wiring.
The fire spread to at least two other sections and destroying supplies but the hospital personnel there worked together to control the situation and keep it from harming patients.
“Such acts of heroism are a special occurrence in other sectors, but a daily staple for our health workers,” the President said. “Without them, we would simply have no chance and no hope against this pandemic, because they are truly our last line of defense.
“Although there are no ways to adequately thank these heroes, I believe that it is important to celebrate their tireless efforts. For this reason, I am introducing the Zikomo Presidential Award, a token of thanks that I will give every quarter to five of the most dedicated health workers selected through the nominations of their peers around the country in recognition of their service.”
The president also condemned acts of violence against health care workers, especially those who are treating COVID-19 patients or those trying to give a dignified burial to those who succumb to the disease.
He issued strong warning that “if anyone is caught assaulting a health worker for any reason, the rule of law will surely take its course”.
Almost on a daily basis, situation reports from co-chairperson of Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka from the locally transmitted infections, there are always healthcare workers.