Editor's Comment

Good move on medics

MANY countries that are now reeling from the devastating impact of the coronavirus have found themselves in this situation because they did not prepare adequately for the disease. They underestimated the power of this invisible enemy and now they are on the back foot.
Zambia is clearly fully aware of what would happen if it fails to prepare adequately.  It has taken its preparedness to a new level – that of ensuring that it has adequate medical personnel to manage the pandemic.
Thanks to President Edgar Lungu, a directive has been given to immediately recruit 400 medical doctors and 3,100 paramedics.
This is good planning.  It is important to ensure that all lines of defence against the disease are in place way ahead of time.
We have seen many developed countries, with much better medical facilities and more medical personnel, weighed down by the unprecedented number of patients.
They underestimated the enemy and now the hard-working medics are overwhelmed by the amount of work on their hands.  These front line health workers would obviously perform better if they were given sufficient breathers, but in these circumstances many of them have to work incredibly long hours.
Zambia should guard itself against such an eventuality.  Fortunately, the President’s foresight should significantly avert such pressure.
It is fortunate too that Zambia has many well-trained medics readily available to take up the challenge.  We hope that those that will be recruited are psychologically prepared to jump into the deep end of the battle.
This is not an easy undertaking as evidenced by stories coming from the other countries where medics are not only overwhelmed but also place themselves at high risk of contracting the deadly virus.
The risk to doctors, nurses and others on the front lines is huge as has been seen in Italy where at least 18 doctors contracted coronavirus and died, while in Spain, about 3,900 health care workers have become infected.
Tackling the virus is not a routine matter.  We pray for the medics to succeed in this national assignment and to do so before the disease causes the kind of ravage seen in other countries.
They should be appropriately encouraged.  This motivation is not only in the fact that they have a job and a salary, but also in them being provided with the right and adequate tools to do the job.
Having thousands of doctors, clinicians, pharmacists, nurses and other medics with various competencies is, however, not a guarantee of winning the war against this pandemic.  All other residents have to play their part too.  This should be through the basic but effective advice that ‘prevention is better than cure’.  In any case there is no cure yet for coronavirus, so collectively Zambia should work towards prevention, which is cheaper and more effective.
The health authorities have continued to provide this advice centred on the need to avoid human-to-human contact and keeping hands clean.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of Zambians and other residents who are turning a deaf ear to this guidance.  They are ignoring the advice on social distancing and staying at home.
These are a danger to everyone and must be dealt with sternly.  This is no time for being soft with people who threaten the lives of scores, hundreds, thousands, and possibly millions of people.
The fact that the global death toll is now over 45,000 means that Zambia too can ‘contribute’ to this ever-growing statistic.  It can, however, avoid that if collectively Zambians heed advice.
A robust surveillance programme put in place by the Ministry of Health has exposed 36 cases so far.  Let’s all be alert.

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