Just to be clear, the following words are my personal opinions and should not be misconstrued or misinterpreted.
With the world at large and not just Kenya facing cataclysmic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we appreciate all that the healthcare providers are doing to treat patients at the risk of them themselves becoming patients too. We are used to seeing them on TV threatening to or going on strike at times and largely protesting their unfair working conditions, but lately, these doctors and nurses our heroes and sheroes* and not to say that they haven’t been that in the past. Besides, what patient emergency can be termed as most important other than protecting our healthcare workers during this pandemic? We have a moral imperative to keep our healthcare practitioners safe physiologically and psychologically globally. So exactly how do we do this?
We can start simple. Our healthcare workers are overworked, underequipped and petrified to even go back to their own homes at times because no matter how careful they were at work, they still worry (a lot) that they can infect their family members. They deserve on the job protection every single day and not just during this COVID-19 pandemic. We expect them to care for and nurture coronavirus patients, other unrelated patients and simultaneously balance things at home.
I am sure KMPDU (Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union) has all the up to date statistical data (or I want to assume that they do) regarding its members and how they are distributed in the region. So using this healthcare workers data, they can distribute PPE and personnel evenly in all areas to limit or avoid the cases of shortages that currently haunts them. Furthermore, they can still use this data to forecast more accurately how much PPE they will need moving forward and still be in a position to stock some for an emergency.
Our healthcare workers are facing severe burnouts during this COVID-19 pandemic. And again KMPDU can use its current (assuming it is) data on healthcare workers to balance personnel during this pandemic and as a result there will be less understaffing in our medical facilities, reduced long shifts for our healthcare workers and improved health services for everyone. We can also ensure healthcare for our doctors and nurses by prioritizing them for COVID-19 tests. Our healthcare workers should be continuously and constantly tested for COVID-19 at no personal cost, and offered free counselling whenever they are in need of it to mitigate depression, burnouts and other hindrances to them providing the best healthcare that they can for us.
We live in a time when everyone (with or without authority) is too quick to have an opinion and speak their mind which is okay and to some extent even healthy but how about trying to listen for a change? We need to listen to and amplify the voices of our healthcare workers on precisely what they need. They are the ones at the forefront of this fight and they are the ones who understand and know what’s needed to help them help us as best as they can. Any and all ideas and solutions that are on the table should be developed with input from our healthcare workers period. We need an avenue and/or a platform that allows our healthcare providers to give voice to their opinions, stories, advice, and expertise while at the same time sharing and documenting their experiences during this tough times.
In conclusion, in order to ensure the sustained delivery of emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is pivotal to protect frontline health care workers from contracting the disease. Various measures implemented, such as hazard controls, PPE, training and compliance, and protection of vulnerable individuals should be included in recommendations. In addition, careful scheduling of staff, as well as consideration for psychological and peer support and wellness initiatives are strongly encouraged.
And to our healthcare workers, words can never be enough to describe how much we appreciate your efforts and actions in taking care of us and you to the best of your abilities.
Meximed Africa Ltd