Health workers in rural Khotang work round-the-clock as COVID-19 cases see a rise in the district
June 10, 2021 08:21 PM NPT
KHOTANG, June 10: Nirmala Sharma, a senior Auxiliary Health Worker (AHW) working at a health center in Aiselukharka Municipality of Khotang has been taking care of COVID-19 patients on round the clock basis. In such a crucial time, Sharma has been treating the infected patients at a temporary COVID hospital in Aiselukharka and in a nearby isolation ward where she spends most of her time serving others, while also providing counseling to those taken ill.
Despite her workload, Sharma also spends her time treating her regular patients, who arrive at the primary health center for the treatment. Sharma, who is seen either wearing her white coat or a PPE suit most of her time, is left with very little or no time at all to even have a proper meal.
Most health workers including Sharma are busy in conducting antigen tests of people with COVID-like symptoms, collecting swabs for PCR test, understanding the health condition of infected patients, giving medications or counseling, sharing prevention ideas from the virus and discharging those who have recovered. Many infected patients even call her for advice for their problems while others contact her through Facebook’s messenger app to share their problems. Sharma often provides counseling with suggestions for problems faced by her patients through a phone call or via the Messenger app.
In many cases, health workers are vulnerable to infection while treating other COVID-19 patients. On the other hand, locals fear to come to any kind of physical contact with the health workers stating that they had come to the contact with the COVID-19 infected patient.
The Rural Municipality has been providing free meals to health workers who are treating patients in isolation, security personnels and ambulance drivers since the mid of May after hotel owners refused to feed frontline workers out of fear of contracting this contagious disease.
Fearing the transmission of the virus, Sharma has even stopped breastfeeding her two-year-old child. “The health workers are very occupied in treating the infected patients. Earlier, I used to carry my baby with me while treating others but have decided to keep my child at home due to fear of virus transmission,” Sharma said. “It is mandatory for a child to drink breast milk for two years. However, I had to stop this due to the pandemic,” Sharma added.
“The health workers are very occupied in treating the infected patients. Earlier, I used to carry my baby with me while treating others but have decided to keep my child at home due to fear of virus transmission,” Sharma said. “It is mandatory for a child to breastfeed for two years. However, I had to stop feeding milk to my child before that time period due to the pandemic,” Sharma added.
Similar is the case of senior AHW Prakash Ghimire. His day starts with examining the health conditions of infected patients, staying in an isolation ward in Haleshi Municipality at 10:00 AM. Upon receiving information about the health condition of his patients, Ghimire provides them with necessary counseling and meals as well. From 11:00 AM till 12:00 PM, he remains busy conducting antigen tests along with other health workers.
In case of fever, cough and suspicion of COVID-19 in the village, Ghimire prepares himself with a PPE suit and heads off to conduct antigen tests. The health workers are also accompanied by Mayor Iwan Rai and Deputy Mayor Bimla Rai in their antigen test program in most of the villages. According to Ghimire, sometimes it gets quite late while conducting the campaign for prevention and control of COVID-19.
“Most of the time I am concerned with the numbers of infected patients found in a day, how the health condition of the patient is and whether it is good to keep them in home isolation or institutional isolation,” Ghimire said. “Sometimes I receive phone calls in the middle of the night from the relatives of infected patients and have to visit them immediately. I can't tell them I need to sleep,” he added.
These are just a few examples of how health workers in the rural district of Khotang are coping with the pandemic. At present, the routine of most health workers in prevention and control of COVID-19 are not very different from the experiences faced by Senior AHW Sharma and Ghimire. The health workers have been treating infected patients by putting their own life on the line without a proper meal, break nor rest. Everyone is praising the health workers who are risking their lives to treat the infected patients.
In a recent social media post, Mayor Rai of Tuwachung Municipality called the health workers an incarnation of the ‘God’. Mayor Rai wrote that the gods in the temple dont speak, but the health workers are the closest form of the god. “You reach out to the infected patients in their homes to provide them with counseling, talk to them, treat them, serve and grant new lives. I pay my deepest gratitude to the gods of Kaliyug,” he wrote further.