When the first positive case of Covid-19 was identified in Mozambique, it was thoughtless that anxiety and stress would haunt the healthcare workers who daily deal with patients who seek treatment.
In Mozambique, the first case of Covid-19 was identified in March 2020. At the time, the possibility of the virus reaching such large number of people, taking the National Health System (NHS) to the verge of collapse, was thoughtless.
Till then, 149,207 positive cases of Covid-19 had been registered nationwide, since the first case was identified.
Adriano Pelembe, a nurse at Maputo Provincial Hospital, has been dealing with this new reality conditioned by Covid-19. In his workplace, Pelembe receives several patients daily, at a moment when physical contact should be avoided.
“The simple fact of leaving home”, says the nurse, with 6 years of experience, “already constitutes a stress these days.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 10% of health professionals become ill as a result of their professional practice in this pandemic. In Mozambique, about 4,000 health professionals have been infected by the virus.
As a health worker, Pelembe’s biggest fear is to get contaminated and, as a result of it, contaminating his family.
“I think about my family. I fear going back to the house and contaminate my family. And there’s this psychological fact”, he said.
Nevertheless, Pelembe’s greatest commitment lies in the treatment of hundreds of patients who seek treatment.
“I have an interest and love for my job. Despite this scenario, I know that we should try to save people. The patients mustn’t leave the hospital the same way they came in. And they mustn’t return in worse situation. There is a need of more humanized health services”, he says.
At this time in Covid-19, another challenge pointed out by this health professional is connected to the protective equipment. Pelembe understands that the disposable equipment puts a greater challenge to the sector.
“The issue of material makes us stressed. I’m not saying we don’t get it. We get it, yes. But imagine. Today you get 50 pairs of gloves, but in a few hours you have to leave it. Tomorrow you receive it, but you abandon it in a short time”, he says.
“We had to perform more than ten childbirths a day, many of which were complicated”
Pelembe’s first experience with a health works was in the Administrative Post of Estaquinha, in Sofala Province. Far from big cities, the movement of people in the streets of Estaquinha is fragile. It was scarce to see people, but out of nowhere “we would see many patients at the health unites, without knowing their provenience.”
In that location, Pelembe learned how to carry out his activities outside the big capitals.
“While in big capitals you are hardly called back to the hospital after the day is done, in Estaquinha it was different”, says the professional.
“Every day, when we finished our activity, we would return home, but then they would come to call us. They needed us, and we couldn’t leave the patients. We used to back to the health center to take care of the people,” he recalls.
Pelembe, in Estaquinha, also recalls, with great satisfaction, the fact that “we had no rest.”
“We had to respond to any case at any time. Per day, for example, we used to perform more than ten childbirth. Some childbirths were complicated, but we managed to stabilize them”, he added.
We used to receive medicines every quarter to present them to the community
From Estaquinha, Pelembe still remembers the meetings with the community to present the medicines received.
“We used to receive them quarterly and they were presented to the community. The advantage of this is that the community would know that there was such a medicine”, says the source.
Pelembe, throughout his journey in Estaquinha, enjoyed the most the interaction with the patients.
“People don’t wait for negative events to praise your work inside the center. The level of recognition of health professionals at that location is high”, he said.
When he returned to the city, Pelembe realized the great difference between urban and rural life. There are diseases typical of the countryside, which never reach the city. Therefore, the professional had to learn how to deal with such diseases, always striving for the well-being of the patients.
A Nomad Nurse
The love for nursing has always moved Pelembe far from home. Born in Maputo, he moved with his parents to Gaza province where he spent his childhood. In the meantime, he headed to Beira, where he studied nursing.
One afternoon, returning from a soccer match with friends, Pelembe remembers: “our parents proposed us to fallow the nursing study at Beira City. We didn’t even have two days to think about it. We accepted.”
Despite studying in Beira with his sister, also a nursing student, homesickness was always present.
While seeking to be integrated into Gaza’s health management, he was forced to return to Sofala.
“Once again, I was away from home. Beira had become my home once again. That brings challenges in terms of socialization. This situation gave me the culture of helping people without looking at their social classes.”
After all these years, he has been advising health professionals to provide decent services to the users, making efforts to improve the function of health unites.