Sunday, April 5, 2020

Disturbing testimonies of nurses facing Coronavirus

Mireille is afraid of being infected with the coronavirus. Nurse at the central hospital of Yaoundé, one of the centers where the patients of Covid-19 are treated in Cameroon, this mother of five does not work at the isolation unit where the patients of this training are confined hospitable. However, like her colleagues, she received many patients who came for consultations for fever, diarrhea, etc. So many signs related to the coronavirus.

“My children ask me not to go to the hospital any more. They say to me "Mum, you're going to go and get infected there". If the cases continue to flow, we will give up. You can't have this love of work to go to death and abandon your children, ”admits Mireille. The nurse is all the more anxious because the decontamination solutions, masks and other protective equipment are insufficient. Cameroon counts, on Friday April 3, 306 cases of contamination and 7 deaths. 

More serious, she continues, the hospital faces water cuts. “At the weekend, we didn't have water. When I leave my house, I take my bottle and put it in my bag, I have my soap to wash my hands. We are really exposed, ”she repeats tirelessly. Like Mireille, many healthcare workers, on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus, have lived in anxiety since the confirmed cases of Covid-19 are increasing in Cameroon. Many fear being infected. According to various sources, at least five of them have been contaminated. 

"Losing soldiers" 

A situation that creates panic. “At the start of a battle like this, we must not afford the luxury of losing soldiers. We must protect the caregivers, "proclaimed on the private television channel Equinoxe Professor Eugène Sobngwi, medical advisor at the central hospital in Yaoundé, adding that two caregivers of this hospital training were kicked out of their house by their spouse, for fear of contamination and are now accommodated in the hospital rooms of the hospital. 

According to unions and associations of caregivers contacted by Le Monde Afrique, many nurses have expressed their desire to give up the “fight against the coronavirus” most often under pressure from their family or because of their bad work conditions. For many years, health workers have been on strike in Cameroonian public hospitals to denounce the lack of equipment and faulty or nonexistent technical platforms, abusive exploitation, non-payment of premiums…

“We lack everything, everywhere. Whether in public or private hospitals, "says Sylvain Nga Onana, president of the National Union of Staff of Establishments and Companies in the Cameroonian health sector, one of the main unions in the sector. "The pandemic surprised us and the staff were not quite prepared," said Balla Balla. The national president of the Syndicate of medical and health personnel of Cameroon (Sympens) confides that "the concern is growing" among the thousands of members of his organization. 

" I am scared " 

At Laquintinie hospital in Douala, which houses the Covid-19 patient treatment center in the economic capital, Nadia * 's phone rings constantly, to the point where she is sometimes forced to switch it off to work. Her husband, mother, brothers and sisters are worried. The young woman, however, does not “yet” work in the isolation unit: “They always ask me why I am still there. They fear that I will be infected and that I will contaminate them afterwards. I am scared. The increase in patients will force all the staff to mobilize and I do not know if I will treat these patients. " 

To limit desertions, Joseph Nkwain, president of the Cameroonian Nurses Association, is raising awareness among its members. However, this director of a training institute for laboratory technicians, who is also a primary nurse at the regional hospital in Bamenda in the English-speaking North-West, is like other people afraid of infections. “My biggest concern is the rapid spread and the condition of our hospitals. They lack equipment and personnel. The nurses' workload will surely increase with little motivation. We recommend massive recruitment of nurses, ”he said. 

In March, the Minister of Health, Doctor Manaouda Malachie, invited all of the "health personnel in the process of integration" to appear without delay in the regional delegations of their choice, with a view to their immediate mobilization As part of the response to covid-19. “This is an unprecedented situation. Our generation has never known that. It is true that people have not been trained, but all the doctors have been trained in virology. This is the basis, ”says World Africa, Guy Sandjon.

"Do not leave the front" 

For the president of the National Order of Doctors of Cameroon (ONMC), "the salvation" of the country lies in prevention. According to him, if the situation currently experienced by Westerners is reproduced here, “it will be terrible, because we have a less efficient system. It is a highly contagious disease that saturates the health system wherever it goes. " 

To encourage caregivers working in isolation centers and hospitals, Doctor Guy Sandjon explains that the Order will offer at least a thousand masks, cartons of soap, bleach and hydroalcoholic gel to caregivers , " To protect them ". "It is a symbolic gesture, a gesture of encouragement and solidarity which I hope will appeal to others. The government cannot do everything alone, ”he says. 

At the regional hospital in Bafoussam, in the west of the country, Sophie, whom she met in October 2019 during our visit, did not "change her dream". "I chose medicine for that. I wanted to heal. Heal the sick. Soothe the suffering, ”says the nurse on the phone. On the Internet, she read the stories of doctors, nurses and other caregivers who became infected or died from the coronavirus. “Today in Cameroon, we are like soldiers. It is true that we do not have enough weapons. But we must not leave the war front. The thirty-something promises to continue her studies and to specialize in virology or epidemiology, if "I survive corona".