Penelope Kakhobwe for Unicef Malawi
Nadu Molegeni can now smile as she has recovered from Covid -19.
Relating her experience from her home in Nkhoma, Lilongwe, she says at first, she felt pain in her legs and thought this was due to her four-month pregnancy and dismissed it.
However, as the pain progressed over several days, and she developed other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and fever, she realised it was more than just pregnancy symptoms. This was when she decided to go to the local outreach health centre for assistance.
When she arrived at the centre, they quickly noticed that things were not right, especially as her temperature was high.
The next day, she was taken to the Nkhoma Hospital and was placed in the isolation unit where health workers extracted a sample from her nose for Covid-19 testing.
“I was concerned when the doctors were taking the samples as I did not know what to expect. Arrangements were made and I was transported to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, where I received medical attention. There they swabbed me and confirmed that I had Covid-19.”
‘I infected three’
KCH is one of the country’s referral hospitals benefiting from UK Aid funding and Unicef support on the COVID-19 response. Unicef through UK Aid is supporting the Malawi Government with various supplies such as personal protective equipment, testing capacity, medicines, sanitisers, and hand-washing facilities among others
During her stay at KCH, Molegeni’s 12-year-old son helped prepare meals for her.
“I was discharged and allowed to return home after about a week. At home, unfortunately, I infected my three young children aged 12, 10, and five. They also needed medical assistance and were taken to the hospital, and fortunately, they recovered,” she narrates.
Molegeni says that she was very worried about the recovery of her children.
Environmental health officers from Lilongwe District Health Office came to the house to sanitise and spray her house and the surrounding areas to remove the coronavirus discovered in China.
They also traced the people she had been in contact with.
She says that the community was suspicious and hostile with the hospital staff as they had not received enough information concerning the disease.
“When the health workers came, some people threw stones at them,” she said, pointing to a pile of stones which the community has been collecting for the building of an extension of the health centre.
Molegeni also says it was a challenge to wash her hands as advised by the government as they do not have easy access to water.
The single mother does not work, but relies on the goodwill of the community for livelihood.
She says: “Water is still a challenge in my community. I try to stay safe by sitting in the sun every day for vitamin D. Without the intervention of the health workers, I doubt I would have gotten better. I wouldn’t even know that I was suffering from Covid-19. Therefore, it’s the health workers who deserve the praise.”
She adds that the experience has also taught her the value of going for regular antenatal check-ups.
She explains: “I will ensure that when it’s time to give birth, I ask for help from medical personnel.
“I am now taking my antenatal visits seriously since they are the ones who will be first to alert me if something is wrong with the baby and me.”
. Her swift recovery has changed the mindset of most of the people in her community, and they no longer view them with suspicion. –