It has been 5 months since my husband and I, together with our children, arrived at the Zavora Clinic in Mozambique. COVID-19 was already making headlines across the world, however, it was unclear how it would impact us. We are now at the stage where COVID-19 cases are being confirmed in surrounding townships so it seems the virus has arrived at our doorstep.
The past few months have brought about many changes to the way we practice on a daily basis. Patients are educated every morning about COVID-19 including measures to prevent transmission of the virus. They are required to wash their hands with soap on arrival, wear masks and maintain a 1-2 metre distance from others at all times. There is also a designated person who identifies patients with flu-like symptoms on arrival. These patients are placed in a separate waiting area and seen first so they can leave the premises as soon as possible. Staff are supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns, masks and gloves and have access to hand sanitiser. Eye shields are worn during higher risk exposures such as consultations involving patients with flu-like symptoms. Gowns and masks are sterilised daily so they can be reused in order to sustain our PPE supply.
COVID-19 has been looming up in the background for several months and it is likely that we will be surrounded by it shortly. This does not change the daily struggle we face with malaria. We treat many cases of malaria every day and a large proportion of these patients are not well. Some present as life-threatening emergencies, particularly young children. Treatment for malaria is in short-supply and our main supplier of medication is unable to provide us with the number of treatments we need. We have therefore had to source treatment privately. There was recently a day where I went to work knowing we did not have malaria treatment to give. As patients tested positive for the disease we placed them aside and asked them to wait whilst we tried to find a way we could help these people. It was wonderful to see how God made a way and every patient that day went home with the treatment they needed. The struggle for enough malaria treatment continues but I marvel to think that to this very day God has always provided us with what we need. This is not only the case for malaria treatment, but also in many other aspects of the clinic. I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews 11 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him”. We all face daily trials, and perhaps even more so due to COVID-19, but my prayer is that these trials will increase and perfect our faith.
Rebecca Escach MD
Article of Mid June / July 2020