By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
More healthcare workers continue to succumb to Covid-19 in Zimbabwe with the latest victim being Dr Surprise Shamiso Matekere who paid the ultimate price for saving people’s lives.
Her death on Thursday is not just a reminder of Covid-19’s ruthlessness but has robbed thousands of villagers in Matabeleland North and South provinces of a philanthropist
In Bulawayo many knew her as the founder of the Elite Medical Clinic situated along corner 5th Avenue and Josiah Tongogara Street but to thousands others she was the brains behind the medical mission which for years had been targeting underprivileged rural folk who could not afford specialists health care services.
Dr Matekere succumbed to Covid-19 in Bulawayo.
The Zimbabwe Medical Association president Dr Francis Chiwora confirmed her death yesterday saying it was devastating to see health care workers die while trying to save lives from the global pandemic which has killed more than 3 500 people in Zimbabwe.
“She was a young and hard-working cadre who succumbed to Covid-19 and there is nothing as devastating as knowing one of you died as a result of trying to save lives. She indeed paid the ultimate price of trying to save lives and her death is nothing but a painful reminder of the havoc that this global pandemic is causing,” said Dr Chiwora.
“We are pained when we lose our patients to Covid and it’s even worse when it’s one of us as we continue trying our best to save our people from this global pandemic.”
Thousands of villagers from Lupane, Nkayi, and Gwanda benefited from medical outreach programmes which the late Dr Matekere facilitated with her pastor and leader of the Abundant Life Revival Mission International Church.
The programmes which were halted when Covid-19 broke out in Zimbabwe last year in March were conducted during weekends.
Dr Matekere would rope in her colleagues from the medical fraternity to go into the deep rural areas and render specialised health care services for free.
She would also work flat out during the programmes, sometimes retiring to bed at midnight just to ensure that the elderly had access to dental or optical services which were out of reach for a majority. Abundant Life Revival Mission International Church founder and pastor,
Prophet Itai Ukama said Dr Matekere’s death is a huge blow to Matabeleland as a region as she was also known for attending to patients free of charge even in Bulawayo.
He said the Dr Matekere will be remembered for the sacrifices which like her name were always a surprise to grateful residents who never dreamt they would afford specialised health care services.
“I had the privilege to work with her, just like her name she never ceased to surprise all of us and honestly her death is a surprise to many, we still cannot believe she is no more. She was not just an ordinary human being because she served whole heartedly without expecting riches in return like some of our health practitioners,” said Prophet Ukama.
“From the time she joined us in 2013 while she was working for PSMI, she served church members and Bulawayo communities without complaining, Covid-19 has rendered us hopeless.”
Prophet Ukama said Dr Matekere had been influential in ensuring that the medical outreach programmes conducted by the church were a success.
“We then worked on a project to reach to the underprivileged in the community especially in rural areas who cannot afford healthcare or medical aid and she quickly assured us that she will seek the services of her friends and colleagues. Because of her love for the people we managed to reach villagers in Lupane, Nkayi and other communities,” he said.
“We have lost a daughter, someone who loved the people of Matabeleland. Villagers especially from Ndamuleni Village will grieve bitterly when they hear that their doctor has died of Covid-19. I am devastated and as a church we know that without her our medical outreach programmes will never be the same,” added Prophet Ukama. The Chronicle