Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Calvin Mwila Chilufya, a 40-year-old diagnostic medical radiographer and CT scan technologist. I am currently working at the Lenmed Health Bokamoso Private Hospital in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. I trained in Zambia, my home country, and then pursued further studies in South Africa and Bangladesh.
How long have you been a healthcare worker? What made you choose a career in healthcare? Any fears or regrets?
I started working as a radiographer in 2004. I came to Botswana two years after launching my career, and worked for a mission hospital for seven years before joining Bokamoso Private Hospital. I was driven by the passion to help fellow
human beings, and seeing people come out of health problems. I derive pleasure from the contributions I make towards public health.
Due to the ongoing lockdown, my work has changed drastically in both directions. On the positive side, we now handle a limited number of patients and that gives us time to manage them well. The biggest negative is the instinctual fear that with every encounter I might contract COVID-19 and in turn infect my family and friends.
How are you helping fight COVID-19? How has your work changed since COVID-19 broke out?
As a radiographer I am directly involved because COVID-19 patients have respiratory-related issues and the radiology department is the first line of investigation.
Safety is paramount and it is my responsibility to ensure I don’t get infected and I don’t infect patients with COVID-19. Though we have shortfalls, I try to use all apparatus at my disposal like PPE, observing set protocols such as decongesting our department, and encouraging our patients and colleagues to observe social distancing. I also offer guidance to people visiting the radiology department about the dangers of this pandemic and ensure that they always wear masks.
I have to be extra cautious and leave no room for error. The obvious challenge arises from working long hours coupled with on-call duties. This requires that even when woken from sleep the precautions precede any clinical activity.
My workplace has abruptly changed, it has somewhat metamorphosed into a ‘warzone’ as we must fight for our dear lives each sunset and sunrise.
What affects you most in this COVID-19 situation? What keeps you going? How are you coping?
What affects me most is fighting a seemingly losing battle, without a vaccine or cure in sight.
The feeling that my profession is my calling keeps me going. The motivation to keep going is based on the fact that in any battlefront we cannot fight without frontline soldiers. For the love of humanity, and care for others, work has to continue. Serving is a privilege.
During this period, I always listen to motivational speakers as a way of reinforcing my state of mind. Focusing on the positive in times of adversity is the best medicine. We have no option other than to fight to eradicate this global menace before it makes us all subjects of history.
What strategy, in your view, has worked well in this fight and what has not? What should be done to win the war against COVID-19?
For me, lockdown was the biggest garrison that has helped calm this nightmarish pandemic. I feel it is a success story for Botswana.
However, the fact that people have to eat has been the biggest challenge against COVID-19. The disease ambushed us and the largest chunk of the population didn’t have lasting food reserves.
The ultimate solution to fight this virus is by discovering a cure, if not, temporary measures like lockdowns should be maintained and sustained globally, with a multi-disciplinary, consistent and internationally coordinated approach.
What is your message to people in your country, and fellow Africans in general at this time of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an enemy that can destroy generations. It needs everyone to protect lives. I would encourage all of us to stay safe, keep others safe and let us be a united front so together we can emerge victorious.
Let us accept that we are faced with an unfortunate crisis and we should adjust to the ‘new normal.’ God bless Botswana! God bless the rest of the world!