First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo, who recently recovered from Covid-19, has said Covid-19 is not a death sentence but a disease that can be overcome with support and availability of resources in public health facilities .
He was responding to questions on an initiative he has launched aimed at mobilising contributions towards stocking hospitals with Covid-19 treatment resources.
In an interview yesterday, Kazombo spoke of the need for government to stock health facilities with adequate resources to save lives.
Asked to share his experience as a Covid-19 patient, the First Deputy Speaker said he started feeling like he had fever and malaria, but later the problem got worse and he was advised to take the Covid-19 test.
Said Kazombo: “I had body pains and felt like I had malaria. I could not sleep, so I went to the hospital the following morning where they diagnosed me with a bacteria infection. Then I was given a bacteria drug, but when there was no change, I was later advised to go for a Covid-19 test.
“After testing positive, I was advised to do a lot of exercises. I was also told to maintain a positive outlook. Sometimes I could wake up at 12 midnight to do exercises. So, Covid-19 is not something that should cause despair.”
However, the Deputy Speaker said he has seen some challenges in health facilities such as lack of essential equipment and drugs for treating patients, which has compelled him to launch the initiative.
He said his major worry is poor access to Covid-19 essentials by rural populations.
Said Kazombo: “I had the capacity to access treatment. But how many people can manage that? Drugs such as iron supplements are expensive and inaccessible [to the average rural person]. So, we need such resources at district level.”
Earlier, he said he was mobilising resources from well-wishers both abroad and locally to support hospitals across the country.
Kazombo said he expects at least four containers of oxygen cylinders and other resources to arrive in the country once he finalises holding meetings with well-wishers.
He said: “As a survivor of Covid-19, I decided not to just sit down and watch people dying. I want to provide hope to people.
People should not think that Covid-19 is a death sentence.
“At national level, I am mobilising resources. I am in touch with doctors from the United Kingdom and the USA. We want many containers with oxygen cylinders into the country and we expect at least four containers of high-powered equipment. Where there is a gap, we need to come in and assist because government does not have all the resources.”
According to him, Kasungu District Hospital will be the first to benefit from the initiative because there is a dire need for resources.
He said: “There is currently no single ventilator at the district hospital, forcing management to refer cases to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.”
Commenting on the development, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe commended the First Deputy Speaker for the initiative which he said will yield a positive impact and responses.
He called on public hospital to be open and list all challenges they face and any resources they may need to fight the pandemic.
Said Jobe: “This is an initiative coming from somebody who is a Covid-19 survivor. His call will have an impact because he is an eye behind the walls. We can now see issues lacking in hospitals. So, our hospitals must be proactive and bring out challenges which are there…”
In his national address on Sunday, President Lazarus Chakwera commended efforts by citizens to support government in the fight against Covid-19, admitting that government cannot do it all alone.
Earlier last Tuesday, Chakwera declared the country a State of National Disaster and appealed for financial and material support in the fight against the deadly pandemic.
Other Malawians, such as renowned France-based writer Stanley Onjezani Kenani, are also raising funds to support the Covid-19 response in the country.
According to Department of Disaster Management Affairs spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula, the department has so far received resources worth K1.6 billion from well-wishers.