The Society of Medical Doctors (SMD) and National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm) have decried the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the frontline battle against Covid-19.
During separate interviews on Thursday to assess their preparedness in the face of a spike in cases in recent weeks, both doctors and nurses expressed fear that if the situation is not addressed the country will be in a crisis as many health care workers are also being infected with the virus.
SMD president Victor Mithi said the situation is getting out of hand with hospitals being overwhelmed.
He said the SMD is currently engaging different stakeholders to help it with PPE.
Said Mithi: “We have had many health care workers who have been tested positive and others going into the isolation. On Thursday alone, 10 health care workers tested positive and the number is likely to be very high.
“If this trend continues, we might be heading towards crisis, because if more health care workers are infected and we don’t have space where we can put our patients, our people might end up not being interested in continuing with their work.”
He asked Malawians to take coronavirus pandemic seriously, saying it pains health workers to see people ignoring Covid-19 preventive measures.
“It pains us when we see people ignoring the preventive measures because it’s us, who are working in the other end and we are the ones that are experiencing the pain,” said Mithi.
In a separate interview, Nonm president Shouts Simeza echoed Mithi’s sentiments that there are not enough PPE for health workers, a development he felt is also fuelling Covid-19 infections among the health care workers.
He appealed to health care workers to use their judgement and withdraw from work if they are working in an environment due to lack of PPE.
Said Simeza: “We took an oath yes, that we will provide care to everybody regardless of whatever, but at this time we need to be safe and protected, so that we continue with our oath of providing services to everybody.
“Health workers are being infected once again in this second wave. But the worry is, as more health workers are getting infected, the more the anxiety and fear come among the health workers.
“Worse still, the more the gap is being created because as I am speaking now, the same [affected health workers] have to go on a self-isolation, meaning their services are not coming forth and the gap cannot be filled immediately as we are already in short numbers.”
Commenting on the rising number of cases, epidemiologist Titus Divala said the second wave should have been smaller and less painful because viruses weaken over time.
He said by the time the second wave comes, it finds many people already immune after the first wave of infections.