Young health worker cries out: It’s sad, I’ve cried a lot
Patients are really grateful, he says. But he harsh reality of the rampaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is that it may stick around in Nigeria for as long as it takes an effective vaccines to be found and circulated round the massive land mass that is the country, or in the worst scenario, when the majority of the population is infected and on the brink.
Already, the pandemic has stalled social and religion activities in the country, with the yearly Eid-Eid-Kabir being the unfortunate victim.
This has led to a frank, but brutal assertion by a frontline health worker in Lagos State, Dr. Sweet Egbu, that the plague may still wreck more havoc in the country. According to the young health worker, this pandemic is a different experience. I watched people die and this have made me to cry a lot.
The plague has almost shut down the economic, social and religious lives of the people. The first major religious casualty was the Easter celebrations. Now the Muslims community too were forced to celebrate the Eid-Eid-Kabir quietly without the usual heavy fanfare, as they usually do.
While the Federal Government through the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have been looking into various ways to curtail the widespread of the plague, decisions like the closing of areas of large human gatherings like the worship centres, sporting arenas, bars, and the likes, have virtually grounded the social lives of the people. In reality, the country appear a ghost of her former self.
But, a young, ebullient, vivacious, but highly professional, Dr. Sweet Obinna Egbu, a medical practitioner, currently working as a volunteer medical officer at the Eti Osa Isolation Center, Lagos State, is most unimpressed by the attitude and response of some Nigerians to the claims and records of both the Federal Government (FG) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the devastating pandemic in the country.
Dr. Sweet’s present service to his Country is a bag of mixed emotions for him. Hear him: ‘I’ve watched people die, but I have also discharged a lot of people home. My heart has leaped with joy, whenever a patient is discharged, but I also cry a lot whenever we lost a patient’.
He continued in an utterly sober mood: ‘People ask me why I’m risking my life, all the time. But you know what’s funny? Patients never ask me that. They’re just really grateful. Due to legal and ethical reasons, however, I can’t give details, though.’
Dr. Sweet mixed bag of emotions could well be justified if one dare to stare at the heart-rending statistics of the pandemic infection in the country and particularly, in Lagos State, where he works. Over 42 thousand infections with close to 1,000 mortalities, nationwide and over 15,000 cases with over 200 mortalities in Lagos State alone is enough to rile the intestines of a young man. The young man must have seen bouncing, vivacious lives cut untimely short by the deadly pandemic.
The young medical doctor, in fact, the youngest frontline health care worker, perhaps in the Country, just turning 25 years of age, believed the Ebola Virus was more virulent and deadly.
When asked if this COVID-19 is more lethal than Ebola, or how is the Ebola easily controllable than this, his countenance dropped. He started picking his words slowly. His reply: ‘The Ebola virus is more virulent, transmissible, and has a higher rate of mortality than the Sars cov2. So, no, it’s not comparable to the COVID-19’
He went further: the ‘Ebola virus was not profound in Nigeria and we didn’t have a lot of cases, because of our prudent public health care system, but in areas that were heavily affected, the death rates easily dwarf those of COVID 19’.
Apparently frustrated with the lackadaisical attitude of most Nigerians to the pandemic, he said the plague may not go away or defeated until ‘until majority of the population is infected, or until there’s a vaccine. There’s no reasonable tentative date for the plague to end’, the young doctor affirmed in an interview with FEFERITY Magazine.
Now came the hammer, delivered with professional coldness of a care giver. Dr. Sweet believed another ‘round of total lockdown is the most appropriate decision in principle to totally and finally combat the further community spread of the Virus’. But he instantly consider the side effect of a lockdown, an economic meltdown, which he agreed ‘could be also disastrous’.
He then charged the citizenry, ‘but if the government can’t help us curtail the spread, the onus is on us, the citizens. So, educate yourself to prevent getting infected, then do your best. Protect yourself. Wear a facemask always, ensure the person you’re talking to is wearing a face mask. Adhere to the NCDC health guidelines. Reinvent new ways of getting valid work done. If you’re experiencing suggestive symptoms, please report to the relevant authorities’.
Dr. Sweet, a Medical Practitioner with ‘a proclivity for clinical medicine and patient centered health care provision. I function based on a low resolution idea predicated on doing the utmost good generally. Metaphysically. I’m a graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria.
He is involved deeply in the treatment, management and containment of the pandemic in Lagos since it the index case was first spotted in the Country on February 2020. He works with the Isolation Centre in Eti Osa area of the State, one of the areas with the most prevalent cases in Lagos State.
He narrated his experience at the Isolation Centre to FEFERITY Magazine: ‘Imagine being a cog in the machine that’s implicitly driving away from a seemingly unyielding chaos. The general fear of day that is nested in the presupposition that the work matters. That’s the catharsis.
Truth be told, we’re making the best of a suboptimal situation. Only a mediocre number of cases get noticed. Although, the modus operandi is constantly evolving and new literature comes out practically every day, and our treatment module typically reflects those changes. I can’t be specific due to ethical reasons.
The young medical doctor have a few harsh words for the environment where the patients are being managed. He also spoke on the challenges of the frontline health workers in the State.
According to him, ‘ostensibly, the lowest incidence of health care workers infection related cases happens to be in the isolation centres themselves. However, there’s a diastema as regards the adequate infection prevention and control measures in relation to its knowledge by health care workers across board.’
He believed that despite the huge sums already claimed to have been spent by the various government, ‘a lot of administrative policy making and government investment into healthcare is still needed.
He continued: ‘How do you put over 70, 80 or even more people in an enclosed environment, tell them they have a disease that has no cure, and then manage the subsequent sociocultural and quasi-dimensional unknown that comes with this new reality?’
For the health care workers to be able to offer more and improve on the handling of the cases and move to the top of the pandemic, he suggested further training of the personnel. ‘There is the lack of adequate training and the much improvement in the availability of PPEs and other life-saving aids for the workers’.
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