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"COVID-19 is real but let’s keep hope alive,"

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"COVID-19 is real but let’s keep hope alive,"

— Dr. Nneka Osiegbu, Nigeria
Africa Renewal
29 July 2020
Nneka Osiegbu is a medical doctor with International SOS, Nigeria
Nneka Osiegbu
Nneka Osiegbu is a medical doctor with International SOS, Nigeria

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Nneka Osiegbu and I’m 32 years old. I live in Lagos, Nigeria, where I am a site doctor for International SOS.

How long have you been working as a healthcare worker? What made you choose this career and do you have any fears or regrets?

I have been a practicing doctor for about 8 years now. My decision to study medicine was influenced by my mother who felt I had all the qualities to be a doctor. I have compassion for other people; I am respectful and hardworking; and I excelled academically. In addition to my mother’s intuition, I loved the idea of being able to help people through diagnosis and treatment.  Being able to help people prevent certain medical conditions by encouraging them to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

My biggest fear is not doing enough for my patients.  I always ask myself: was there something else I could have done for this patient?

I have no regrets so far. My guiding principle is: learn and look forward.

How are you helping fight COVID-19 in your country? How has your work changed since COVID-19 broke out?

Awareness is key in the fight against COVID-19. I am currently focused on enlightening people on its spread and prevention methods, as well as implementing protocols for the identification of suspected cases at the clinic.

What affects you most in this COVID-19 situation? How are you coping and what keeps you going?

Without a vaccine, the apparent feeling of helplessness that is gripping the entire world affects me the most. The fact that lives are being lost daily.

However, playing my part and holding the line until the cavalry (cure or vaccine) arrives, keeps me going. Due to social distancing, I am not able to be with family and friends, but technology has cushioned that effect.                                                                      

What strategy, in your view, has worked well in the fight against COVID-19 and what has not? What should be done to win the war?

I think increased testing, early detection of cases and prompt isolation of positive patients at isolation centers in order to prevent further spread of the disease, have worked well.

Self-quarantine at home with lack of, or no efficient, supervision and disjointed lock-downs without the enforcement have not worked well. Some people do not want to live in isolation facilities coupled with a poor understanding of how to isolate effectively.

What is your message to Africa at this time of COVID-19?

My message would be to keep hope alive. In the meantime, believe that COVID-19 is real, continue to observe the safety precautions as advised by the health agencies.