By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
Mpilo Central Hospital has lost a nurse to Covid-19 who died at the institution last week.
Sister Pretty Mpala (36) from Emakhandeni suburb in Bulawayo tested positive posthumously and was buried on Friday.
She is one the hundreds frontliners in Zimbabwe who have been infected while trying to save lives. According to a weekly situational report from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, nurses are the most affected workers when it comes to Covid-19 and they constitute 37 percent of total health care workers affected.
As of Monday, there were 6 497 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe and 202 deaths. Bulawayo province has a cumulative total of 1 276 cases, 25 deaths and 1 140 recoveries.
Statistics from the Ministry show that more than 480 health workers have contracted the global pandemic in Zimbabwe.
Bulawayo (137) and Midlands (128) account for a greater proportion of infected front liners.
Healthcare workers have been greatly exposed to Covid-19 due to the global shortage of personal protective equipment.
More than 120 nurses at Mpilo Central and United Bulawayo Hospitals have contracted the virus, forcing them into quarantine, thereby reducing the number of workers who are manning the public institutions.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 1 000 nurses have been infected by Covid-19 in Africa alone.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has seen nurses worldwide making huge personal sacrifices, sometimes attending to patients without adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) risking their health and that of their families.
The world over, at least 90 000 health care workers had been infected by Covid-19 and more than 260 nurses had died by the end of May according to the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
In an interview, Sr Mpala’s aunt, Mrs Kezzeneth Mpala, said the family had lost its breadwinner and was struggling to accept the nurse’s fate. She said Sr Mpala’s guardian, her grandmother, had fallen sick after receiving news of her untimely death last week.
“We are still shocked and in deep pain following the passing of Pretty who was the sole breadwinner in the family. Our hearts are sore and we fear for her traumatized grandmother who raised her following the death of her parents as she is struggling to walk or talk since her death,” said Mrs Mpala.
“Pretty was a caring person and it was not surprising that she eventually became a nurse. She went through a lot of challenges while growing up but managed to shrug off all discouragement and qualified as a nurse.”
According to Mrs Mpala, Sr Mpala was passionate about serving her people and community which made her a committed and resilient nurse.
Mpala, the only child born to her late parents, started her nursing studies in 2013 and had never looked back.
She also struggled with some illnesses which never killed her hardworking spirit as she managed to do her duties at Mpilo while battling the ailment.
“We used to meet members of the public in town who would stop and thank her for the care she rendered while they were admitted to Mpilo. She was also a darling to the community and our relatives and would easily give health advice so that everyone around is healthy and fit.
“Her loss has brought a lot of pain in our lives and we hope one day we will understand why her life had to end this way,” she said wiping away tears.
Mpala is survived by her grandmother and cousins.
Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya sent his condolences to the family saying Covid-19 had cost the institution a hard-working staffer.
“We are extremely saddened that Covid-19 has taken one of our staff members, her premature death is evidence that this disease is deadly. As health workers are at the forefront, we continue to bear the brunt of this virus but we still must work hard and face it while saving lives,” said Prof Ngwenya.
“Most of us will be infected in the line of duty and it is sad that one of our self-sacrificing nurses had to lose her life. I would like to commend all those who come to work despite the risks that come with our jobs, this kind of sacrifice is highly commendable.” The Chronicle