Health Systems in Zimbabwe: A Nurse’s Perspective


Interview by Runyararo Nyagwande

Health Systems in Zimbabwe from a Nurse’s Perspective


How different is the South African variant from the Chinese variant?

It’s still the same Covid-19 but patients with the South African variant experience more and slightly different symptoms from the Chinese variant. The South African variant may display unusual malaria-like symptoms but it’s still Covid-19.

Can you tell us about the symptoms of Covid-19?

Most common symptoms include coughing, chest pains, backache, headache, fever and chills, stomach ache, diarrhea, and body weakness.

As a nurse, what is your assessment of the situation on the ground?

Presently things are better than they were the last month and a half. The period after the 2020 Christmas holiday was the most frightening and January 2021 was the worst as we would have 4 to 5 deaths per day at our provincial hospital but now we can go up to 2 or 3 days without a single death. During the holidays people became ignorant and started attending functions with no masks and no social distancing. I have also noticed that most of the people who are succumbing to Covid-19 have underlying illnesses which makes them more vulnerable to infection.

We have heard of doctors dying from Covid-19. How true is that?

I don’t have that kind of information and at our hospital, no doctor has succumbed to Covid-19 yet.

Do you have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the hospital?

We have enough equipment, especially in the wards where Covid-19 patients are treated.

Is there enough manpower to run the hospital?

We need more personnel although the government is really trying to correct this.

Why is there a shortage of nurses?

Most nurses are leaving for higher paying jobs in foreign countries like Canada, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.

Tell me about your working hours?

We are working 5 days a week as the law requires us to work 40 hours per week.

What measures can people take to protect themselves from Covid-19?

People should wash their hands frequently and cough into their elbow if they need to cough. Masks help to stop the spread of Covid-19.

What is your encouragement to anyone displaying Covid-19 symptoms?

Once one feels the Covid-19 symptoms, they should go to the clinic and get tested. If the symptoms are not severe, one can get health education from the nurses which they can use at home. Without awareness, one can just live ignorantly and spread the virus.

Do you think natural herbs work?

I have heard that Muzumbani (Lemon bush) works although it has not been clinically proven yet. However people are testifying that it does help.

There are those that are claiming that the vaccine is dangerous. What are your views?

If it’s a real vaccine, it will be good for us. It’s the same as the Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine being administered to children. However, after receiving a vaccine, it doesn’t make you immune to the virus but it does help boost your immune system.

How long does it take for a person to recover from a Covid-19 infection?

In 10 days, the symptoms should have cleared and the risk of transmission would be very low.

After recovering from Covid-19, do you become immune from reinfection?

Covid-19 is very infectious and the chances of contracting Covid-19 again are still high.

Is it true that Covid-19 affects the elderly more than anyone else?

The immune system of the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are generally low making them more vulnerable to Covid-19 infections.

What advice would you give to people in terms of their lifestyles?

People should eat healthy, especially our African traditional foods. Avoid eating fatty foods and exercise regularly.

Being a front-line worker, are you not affected by people dying so rapidly?

We are the most traumatized as we witness people whom we would have nursed die so suddenly. It’s even more scary when you start feeling the same symptoms as well.

Are you not afraid of bringing the virus back into your home?

I fear for my family getting infected through me but I have to work. Each time I come home, I go straight to shower, soak my uniform, bath, and wear fresh clothes.

Any last words?

Covid-19 is real and it does not discriminate. I encourage people to adhere to government regulations so that we can defeat this virus.

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