Community Development Health

Celebrating COVID-19 response unsung heroines: Part 2

Dr Harunavamwe N Chifamba

By Catherine Murombedzi

The COVID-19 response was quite immense and as we continue to celebrate unsung heroines, we spotlight healthcare workers whose contributions made a positive impact.

Dr Harunavamwe N Chifamba, Specialist Anaesthetist Intensivist and Clinical Epidemiologist

“For some must watch, while others must sleep,” that’s Dr Harunavamwe’s space in Sally Mugabe Central Hospital. She has worked for nearly three decades at the hospital, and 24 of those years, as a Specialist Anaesthetist.

“I enjoy my job, I specialised in Anaesthetics and Critical Care Medicine to provide care for patients requiring surgery and those critically ill patients,” said Dr Harunavamwe.

Zimbabwe has a shortage of Specialist Anaesthetists. She is married to Dr Dickson Dick Chifamba, a Palliative Care Specialist, with Island Hospice and Healthcare.

At the start of the pandemic, she was appointed to lead the Case Management Pillar of the Covid-19 response within the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC). This was a demanding role that involved leading teams that were setting up treatment centres, mapping the health workforce, setting treatment guidelines and quality of care and capacitating healthcare workers to manage all levels of complexity of COVID 19 among other functions.

“I lost a number of colleagues, friends and family members to Covid-19. My husband and I came out of isolation on Christmas Day of 2021, so that meant we could not be with extended family members for the Christmas festivities,” concluded Dr. Harunavamwe.

Judith Chimbadzwa, a midwife

Pregnant mothers continued to give life. This was made possible by midwives. Working at Glen View Poly Clinic, Chimbadzwa was one of the unsung heroes during the pandemic.

Judith Chimbadzwa

With Covid-19 testing still not accessible to most, pregnant mothers in labour headed straight to maternity wards. Chimbadzwa and her mates were there to receive them.

Covid-19 lurked in the workplace, for pregnant mothers, the risk was high. Never did she miss work. Duty called.

“Shaaa ndodiii, ndinombotyao asi madzimai ari kuda kusununguka vanondida. (My friend, what can I do, at times I get scared, but I can’t stay away at home, the women in labour require my services, and I have to be in the labour ward) was a sobering moment with Chimbadzwa on the phone. She has been that first hand to welcome life. She is mbuya nyamukuta, a midwife. Hats off for such dedication in the face of Covid-19. There are more like Chimbadzwa out there. We salute you all.

Naome Muzira, a state-registered senior nurse

A sister in charge in the male ward in Gweru, Sister Muzira braved the hospital setting. With red zones for Covid-19 patients, the mere presence in a hospital ward was not for the faint-hearted. A number of nurses resigned, it’s understood, they are human and were afraid like everyone else.

Naome Muzira

Never did Sister Muzira miss a shift.

“I am working, patients need me, sadly, one or two don’t appreciate our sacrifices but it’s human nature, I continue to care and treat as I took in my nursing,” said Muzira over the phone in 2020.

Muzira has worked in public service for over 30 years. Often asked why she hasn’t moved to greener pastures, she replied that it ain’t easy to do so.

“I could have done so long ago. It ain’t easy. With a girl child in university, leaving her behind with her elder brother is not the best. Secondly, I have worked at Gweru since graduating. It has become my second home. It’s not easy to leave a part of me,” said the girl from Mabvuku, Harare.

The country lost 89 health staffers from the health frontline, with more unaccounted for from the community health workers. We salute their great work in successfully turning the tide to manageable levels. Covid-19 is a virus. We have to learn to live with it.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende