Hazel Marimbiza, Sunday News Correspondent
As the coronavirus continues to claim people’s lives in the country, doctors and patients continue experiencing a myriad of challenges.
A surge of patients has left hospitals understaffed and overwhelmed. One doctor described how the high numbers of Covid-19 patients were leaving hospital staff exhausted, even as they remain resolute in the face of the ongoing crisis.
Willard Mushiwokufa, a doctor at the Gweru Provincial Hospital said the Covid-19 era has been one of the worst times for him and his colleagues.
“The doctors and patients here are struggling. More Covid -19 patients keep on coming in daily. Per day we have over 40 people testing positive for Covid-19. About 10 will require admission but our facilities are not enough to take in 10 patients daily. Also, we have about five people dying daily from the virus. It is really painful to watch patients getting critically ill and succumbing to the virus,” he said.
Besides the volume and intensity of their Covid-19-related work, Dr Mushiwokufa said witnessing Covid -19 patients dying has greatly affected his mental health.
He explained that since doctors and healthcare workers across the country have been on their toes dealing with the daily influx of Covid-19 patients for more than a year now, naturally the relentless struggle against the pandemic has led to physical and mental burnout among medical professionals.
“Most of us are just overwhelmed and stressed out by the number of patients we’re having to see dying or struggling to breathe. Personally, it has become a routine to watch patients succumb to the coronavirus infection that it’s hard to even sleep or rest because I keep on imagining those people who would have died,” said Mushiwokufa.
He highlighted that lack of a support system also adds to their anxiety. “Imagine the anguish of watching patients who are confident of sailing through dying suddenly and then after that you don’t receive any counselling. That is not proper, we also need mental health services,” he said.
In trying to deal with the stress that comes with being a frontline worker during a pandemic Dr Mushiwokufa said doctors resort to good and bad habits.
“While some doctors try to curb the stress by engaging in healthy exercises such as jogging and going to the gym others have resorted to unhealthy habits like abusing alcohol,” he said.
He emphasised that in this pandemic it’s essential for doctors to get a proper support system.
“The best support system is professional counsellors, proper working conditions, and proper pay,” he said.