July 9, 2020

Silent issues in the management of COVID-19 concerns raised by a family member

Letter to Editor- Gov failed us (SA self returnees )

Letter to Editor- Gov failed us (SA self returnees )

Kenrinie Makutu Chipamba writes:

Good morning Malawi, many people have been wondering when and how I got access to the quarantine facility at Kameza.

My daughter arrived in the country some 4weeks ago from China where she presented some chest pains and panic attacks, while their she was put under observations for almost two weeks in house at the hostels and did not have any possible signs for Covid 19. She was having short breath and chest pains. It was happening mostly at night.

Minister of Health

When she arrived she was fine and was placed in safe isolation at home which we observed very well. The chest pains come and go and I thought of taking her to BAH. Upon arrival I reminded myself of the need to call DHO office to inform them.
They told me not to get into the hospital premises rather go back home where they will meet us. Mind you this was around 8:00pm.
I sent them my house location map and went home waiting. Till 10:00pm they were no where to be seen.

When I called later they asked me to drive to kameza Quarantine.
While there I saw some other two Chinese nationals. I was allowed to go inside the facility, yes I was having a mask on. The place was lit by generator.

Doctors turned up at around 24:00hrs and I learnt that one of them have been working all day attending to mostly people who attended HE function at Njamba.

She was tested and had no vital signs for covid apart from chest pains. The doctors excused themselves and later told us she was to sleep at the quarantine. I had no problem with that. I left the place at around 2am and went home.
In the morning I had to prepare breakfast and took a kettle with me and all necessary stuff so she could prepare her own meals. I was ready to have her at the facility for as long as they felt necessary but what I learnt and saw in the morning shocked me.
The same guard whom I met the previous night was the same who was working that day. It was the same person cleaning the facility and the same person taking food items to my child.
I felt sorry for him and I asked if it was allowed for me to get into the building since I was already there the previous night with doctors present I felt I needed to see how she was doing.
I got my protective cloths on and went in.

The young girl was physically fine but mosquito bites all over her. This made me sick and regretted telling the DHO office of her illness. This place was now another health concern to me and I wanted her out to continue the isolation at home. I requested for further medical attention to check her chest X-ray and was turned down. Doctors only arrived at 11am to collect samples. Which later come out negative the next morning.
The following day she slept there she had the chest pains again and she called me at 12midnight. I got there the place was in total darkness. Only when I arrived they switched on the generator.
I called the doctors and was promised they were coming. I did not go in the facility I remained in the car till morning. No doctor turned up. I was getting sick and more worried now. I kept checking on her over the phone and she assured me she is pulling through.I stayed there till 11am and a group of health personnel come and it’s when I learnt that the Minister of health was coming.

That facility is hot inside there. The floors are peeled off making it even more difficult to clean.
This facility is not fit for human treatment as it may expose people to more risks than good.
Ask the DHO, Queens Director if they can seat in the offices of the facility for 1hr.How then do they expect people who are already weak to be placed in that facility? The facility does not have any equipment to help people with difficulties in breathing.

The quarantine facility as for three weeks ago was in bad shape.something need to be done and it should be done now than wait for long. We can not afford to depend on a facility which is in bad shape. If it’s not me nor you going in there for quarantine it might be someone you love. Let’s make it possible to raise the standards of our preparedness on this covid19 at hand. No one is going to do it for us. The world is at stand still and those we depend on all the times have been attacked and hit more that they need our help more now than never before.

I made sure I did not meet nor see the minister because I was angry and not at peace at all. I wanted to make sure I am away from attacking him not the health personnel, I went behind the building and chat with my daughter through the window just to give her moral support.

This was the time I was overpowered and felt helpless and less a parent. There was nothing I could do to get my child the best treatment I could afford. She was locked in. Yet no proper medical check up could be run on the problem she was presenting.

When she was discharged later that day, I was asked to visit queens hospital to get an Ex ray done on her. The doctor who saw her was very helpful, nothing very serious was noted.

Our doctors need our support, let’s lobby government to work on preparing the available space at Polytechnic or Collage of Medicine since students are out and turn them into quarantine facilities. KCN campus at kameza could be another option. A place where doctors will be ready and free to work. A place which is having facilities to cover them from exposure too. We can not wait till things are bad. We are incubating a challenge which we might not be able to clear up if it gets worse.

China did it, they used hostels as students were away on school holidays when Covid 19 was first noted. Why can’t we borrow a leaf from them?


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