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Covid-19: Defining moment for Africa

Our country has just imported two million more vaccine doses from China, making it one of the fastest movers in Africa in terms of inoculation drive. We should congratulate ourselves for organising such important resources. It is time for you to be vaccinated as fast as possible, but make sure you have well-controlled hypertension and diabetes.

Covid-19 has now presented with three waves but it is the third wave that is showing distress signals with serious threat on humanity especially in Africa.

The third wave has many active strains of the Coronavirus, but the most stubborn of them is the Delta variant (formerly Indian) which is characterised by high transmissibility, fast patient deterioration, high oxygen demand plus many casualties. It is a sad development for Africa considering how underdeveloped health infrastructure is.

Namibia is in trouble with daily deaths now surpassing an average of 55. Measures should surely be put in place in order to urgently flatten the curve. It is sad as all age groups are infected and affected with serious impact on the political, economical, social aspects of humanity. The sad observation is that the virus seems to slip under our noses and many of the infections occur under our watch as our behaviour determines the extent of the infections.

What is needed is mere discipline and consequent compliance with the stipulated public health measures if we are to be at a gratifying position. So far the world has lost more than  four million people to the invisible Covid-19. The end seems far.It is not easy to lose companions unexpectedly, especially to something that one does not have direct control over. Zimbabwe has started to experience torrid time with hospitals raising the red flag over admission space already.

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 diabetics are in big trouble and it is my advice that these patients should not be wholly attended to in their homes. They need hospital care. The scourge is already showing signs of surpassing the January 2021 surprises. Let us pray to save our dear country.

In 2007, the World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with six building blocks of a robust health system. These are health workforce, service delivery, medicines, leadership, financing and information systems. Whatever we try to do to contain Covid-19 should have a matrix that includes virtually all the building blocks of a lively health delivery system. It is thus important to note that collaborative effort can upset Covid-19 and all of us become victors at last. Know your role today. Find yourself a place to fit and contribute to the mitigation and containment of the virus. The following should be taken note of:

Health workforce: It should be dedicated, motivated and incentivised if a candid health service is to be realised. Majority of health workers, be they from private or public sectors, have shown great resilience and are determined to complement all government efforts to stop the sadistic virus.

Leadership: The health leaders should show paternalistic nature with some transformative characteristics that will promote change in the health sector. Proactive strategies should be in place if we are to face the scourge head on.

Financing: All those with capacity to finance the health sector should do so as soon as possible.Public health delivery in Zimbabwe is mainly funded by government through tax-based system. All the moneys budgeted for health delivery should be released to procure hospital equipment, purchase ambulances, drugs, sundries etcetera.Any organizations that are willing to assist our country should do so.

Information systerms: Our health information systems should be modernized in order to capture as much information as possible. Accurate data is required for strategic planning. The private practice should cooperate with relevant authorities to collate all the necessary data.

At individual level, it is important to take note that our behaviour is very important and failure to be responsible can lead to a health catastrophe. It is therefore imperative that we be reminded of the following about Covid-19:

lThat Africa is being swept at the moment with many countries raising the red flag. What is needed is to upscale out testing and contact tracing. So much in terms of resources should be channelled to the procurement of testing kits. The  reality is that there are many Covid-19 cases now roaming around the streets of many towns with medical centres detecting those who present to clinics or surgeries. However, denialism is proving to be dorminant as many of these patients shun testing. People need to be reminded that the Delta variant does not need delays in seeking treatment. Prolonged steaming is proving futile with many patients developing silent hypoxia where oxygen in the tissues goes down unknowingly. Please get frequent saturation checks.

lThat 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 suburbs leaves a lot to be desired. 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. If many people are going to be infected at the same time, we have high risk of fatalities as medical staff may fail to cope with pressure.

lThis is the time for robust health education. Mass media should play critical roles in information dissemination. Many people are complacent yet the virus is ravaging across the country with the unfortunate developments of affecting the rural populace especially in Mashonaland West province. Gatherings for sure should  remain banned as of now. 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.

Hey, the attack is already on us and people should learn to report symptoms and signs early. The issue of denialism should not creep into your brain as it results in delayed seeking of treatment. Self-treatment should never be allowed to go beyond many days if patients are not showing marked improvements. Remember Covid-19 causes septic shock, thrombo-embolism, renal impairment, respiratory distress syndrome and complicated patients would require oxygen or ventilation.

lSeek professional help. Mere surfing on the internet is proving to be catastrophic for many as different treatment regimes are posted on numerous groups thus further confusing people and even giving false hope. 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. Know again that Covid-19 now and this is not the time to ignore the stipulated measures. Your fingers will soon burn!

lDr Johannes Marisa is a medical practitioner and public health practitioner who can be accessed on doctormarisa@gmail.com

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