Monday, 30 November

Why sentence children below five years and pregnant women to death?

Feature Article
ALIU IDDRISU

I am a self-motivated person who aims for positive change.

I strive to contribute to a world of respect and gratitude.

My name is ALIU IDDRISU.

I live in the Northern Region of Ghana and I am currently a student at the Tamale Technical University studying Computer Science.  I am a trained Youth Leader for Health. The youth leaders for health programme is a one-year leadership development program put together by Results UK alongside Hope for Future Generations (Ghana), CISMAT-SL (Sierra Leone), Health Promotion Tanzania-HDT and WACI Health which seeks to support 25 young campaigners based in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania develop their skills and knowledge to advocate for accelerated progress to end malaria and strengthen health systems in their countries and globally.

Why do Governments exist?

Why should we allow children below 5 years old, pregnant women and vulnerable people die just because of a common disease that can be prevented, just because of malaria?

Reflections

On the 11th of March 2020, I was admitted to the hospital because I had malaria. On the third day of my admission, I went to the hospital pharmacy to get my medications. Something strange happened when I was at the pharmacy.

A man came in with his sick pregnant wife. There was a nurse at the Hospital entrance who takes every patients or visitors’ temperature as you entered the Hospital. When she checked the pregnant woman’s temperature, I think it was higher than the normal temperature. The nurse quickly put on her gloves and face mask and asked the pregnant woman to follow her. I drew closer to the husband and asked what had happened? He said he did not know.

When the nurse came out and he asked what was going on, the nurse said she suspected his wife was infected with COVID-19. The husband said; “It can’t be true. I am a nurse too and I know very well the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. She only has a high fever and I suspected malaria and did a home test which turned out positive. So I had to quickly rush her here for treatment and you are telling me you suspect COVID-19. How can that be possible?

The husband went angrily to the room where his wife had been asked to wait. The room had no lighting and no fan. He escorted his wife out of the room and realized all the nurses were pointing to his wife and shouting, she has CORONA VIRUS run. Then everybody, including me, started running helter-skelter. Yes, even me as a youth leader and health advocate run upstairs and peeped through a window.

The man drove away with his wife.

Eight weeks later, I met this man again on a motorbike at a traffic light on my way home from work. I asked him what’s up now with his wife. He said; “Oh she’s fine and we even had a new bouncing baby girl.  It was not COVID-19. Look at how the nurse caused panic, driving patients away and immediately creating stigma for my wife. Let us talk later when we meet again”.

People tend to jump to the wrong conclusions.

If the husband had not intervened and insisted his wife had malaria, his wife would have been isolated in a COVID-19 ward and taken through many tests whilst the malaria parasites increased in number putting his pregnant wife at high risk of serious illness and possible death.

In my world, as a health advocate, I need to have correct facts and figures especially in this present time where there is fear. Just because one symptom of the COVID-19 is high temperature should everyone with a high temperature be quarantined?  

WHY SHOULD THAT BE SO?

Before COVID-19, over thousands of pregnant women, children below five years and other innocent vulnerable people died globally and are still dying from malaria but our leaders don’t look out for that but are concentrating mainly on COVID-19.

I titled my piece “Why sentence pregnant women and children below five years to death” because seeing and allowing innocent people to die from a common disease that can be prevented is equally sentencing them to death.  

This can be stopped if we allocate more funding to strengthen our health systems. Together we can live. As I mentioned earlier on, I am a self-motivated person who derives satisfaction through positive change and I strive to contribute to a world of respect and gratitude. Therefore I pledge to advocate for more resources to be allocated to our health system especially to fight against malaria.

My sincere thanks to my mentor, Dr Sylvia Anie for sharing her public health experience with me and for supporting me to put my journey on paper.

GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND GHANA

Email: [email protected]

Contact: +233556105852/+233207643412

Source: Aliu Iddrisu