Please keep all medics safe, to take care of us

Bungoma medics wear PPE

Members of the Bungoma County Isolation Team put on personal protection equipment (PPE) before burying the body of Dr Doreen Lugaliki, the first Kenyan doctor to die of Covid-19, in Ndalu, western Kenya, on July 13, 2020.

Photo credit: Brian Ongoro | AFP

What you need to know:

  • I get sick keeping people waiting, and I could die for not keeping my word.
  • I have also lost a large number of relatives to this scourge.

I did not send in an article to my editor last week. This week, I have sent it in late. I must apologise for this. And I must also explain why this is happening, because that is how I am made.

I get sick keeping people waiting, and I could die for not keeping my word. Normally, when I tell you I will do something, you can start living your life as though it is already done. You can therefore imagine my pain for not keeping my word, twice in almost 13 years.

Here’s why. Over the last couple of weeks, the toll of Covid-19 has become incredibly personal. I have lost close to a dozen colleagues and friends. I have also lost a large number of relatives to this scourge. It has been difficult going on with life as usual, even though, as one may imagine, I have been immersed in the control of this pandemic since it began.

Covid-19 is the monster we thought we were prepared to deal with, but which continues to pluck our people from our midst in almost random fashion. Last week, when I should have been writing this column, I was mourning the deaths of four colleagues within 24 hours, and eight in a week. Today, as I pen this piece, two of my colleagues have died in the last 24 hours.

Medical school

You see, in medical school, we are trained to be ready for disasters. The medical profession and the entire health sector is set up to deal with just such disasters as Covid-19. The entire philosophy of our education is to prepare us to deal with the health threats that face humanity every so often.

It just happens that such emergencies only happen to face the whole of humanity at once very rarely, but most human beings face such emergencies several times in their lifetimes. In contrast, the average medic deals with individual emergencies almost every day.

In the context of Covid-19, we are faced with a scenario in which we not only have to confront the deaths and suffering of the patients we are sworn to serve, but we also have to deal with the almost daily losses of our colleagues and friends. It is gutting.

Lost colleagues

This past week we held a virtual wake for our lost colleagues. There were tributes and recitals of our cherished memories with friends and fellow travellers in this journey of health care. We cried together as colleagues. We shared strategies for getting support when we are down. We reiterated the solidarity we must maintain as we confront this enemy that is mowing us down ever so randomly.

And as we continue to serve humanity and struggle to find solutions to deal with this plague, we urge those that hold the power and the purse-strings to remember us. We urge all employers of health workers to ensure that they are safe at their workplace.

 We plead with you to ensure that all the health workers you have employed are paid in a timely fashion, and that should they get sick they can get the best available care without having to resort to fundraisers among their colleagues.

Please do this for us, and we promise to do everything in our power to keep you safe, and healthy. And just alive.


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