The declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and the subsequent rollout of lockdowns across the world to halt its spread was one of the major health interventions that has been done in many years.
This was an important step that we believe is serving its purpose as the death toll from the infection could have been higher had it not been for the timely intervention. However, there is a danger that while the world focuses on Covid-19, other diseases may slowly make a comeback, aided in part by these restrictions and less awareness campaigns on them.
There are patients who are on medication for communicable and non-communicable diseases who have had their treatment disrupted due to travel restrictions. It is very important for health authorities to understand the plight of some of these patients, some of whom have been forced to come back home from neighbouring countries.
We have cases of individuals that accessed their medications from where they were based and find themselves stranded when their drugs run out, while there are also cases of Zimbabweans based in neighbouring countries that used to collect their medication from local clinics, using relatives that would collect and send to them using cross-border transporters.
Due to the restrictions, some of these methods have become increasingly difficult if not downright impossible, leaving some of the individuals at the mercy of their conditions.
Our plea is for health authorities to lend an ear to some of these cases so that if they can produce records, they can be helped at local health institutions. It is generally accepted that most of these people working across the borders illegally tend to have a double identity whereby they could be accessing medication in South Africa or Botswana under a different name than the one they use back home. We believe that Covid-19 remains a major threat but that the other conditions also deserve our attention.
In our previous edition we carried an article on concerns about massage sessions that are said to have helped elderly people in Bhidi area of Plumtree. The people behind the sessions felt that the elderly people’s conditions, such as sore feet, stroke-induced numbness among others, would worsen since they could no longer carry out the sessions.
Our view is that in the long term such practice should also be taught to the people as a form of empowerment so that they could be given tasks to carry out in pairs since they value the sessions so much, and we have no idea how long the lockdown would take. We need not neglect anyone’s health by focusing only on Covid-19. We believe there is so much that can still be done within the law to assist different patients.