Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Mamina Bojang and I am the Deputy Matron at the Medical Research Council at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the Gambia. I was born in Foni Bondali district in the west coast region 49 years ago. My occupation is nursing, and my hobbies are reading and watching television.
How long have you been working as a healthcare worker?
I have been a healthcare professional for about 30 years now. I studied at City University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Southampton University in the UK, as well as the University of the Gambia.
What made you choose a career in healthcare?
Healthcare was my dream career since childhood. I have passion for the job. It has become part of me, and I have become part of it. I am in love with my work.
Do you have any fears or regrets about your job?
Well, COVID–19 has injected some fears in me because of its high rate of morbidity and mortality in our communities. I’m at the frontline helping our people and because of this I have no regrets of being a healthcare worker. I feel I’m on the right track and I remain vibrant, focused and I continue to develop myself career-wise. I can feel the joy and the reward of it. I still feel I have not reached my maximum potential in looking after COVID-19 cases because the Gambia has only recorded few cases of fatalities.
How are you helping fight COVID-19 in your country?
I’m always happy to help the people of my country whenever the need arises. For now, I’m training nurses and other staff members on how to handle COVID–19 cases. It was no surprise when I was automatically selected to join the COVID-19 training team by my line manager.
Training is the backbone of fighting any virulent disease like COVID-19. Our training comprises of topics such as how to recognise signs and symptoms of the disease, transmission routes, case definition, epidemiology, waste management and prevention of COVID-19, to name a few.
How has your work changed since COVID-19 broke out?
My role as a carer changed automatically from bedside nursing to COVID-19 team trainer.
What affects you most in this COVID-19 situation?
People fear COVID-19 and this has led to a low turn up to the health facilities. They are only coming when very sick which may lead to congestion and unnecessary mortalities.
What keeps you going and how are you coping?
My family and friends and my employer have been very supportive. May God bless them all! I say this from the bottom of my heart. I feel I’m doing a good job and people appreciate what I’m doing in impacting knowledge and skills which will go a long away in protecting lives. I am coping well. I can see some changes in people’s social behaviours, and I hope this will be sustained till the end of the pandemic. My unit has successful managed two confirmed cases of COVID-19 and discharged them back to the community.
What strategy in your view has worked well in this fight and which one has not?
Applying institutional guidelines and protocols has helped tremendously. I would say the idea of instituting a training team has worked well too. Mass sensitization of the communities, and health promotion broadcasts over the radio and television have contributed significantly. On the other hand, what has not worked well is that the public is not taking social distancing seriously.
What should be done to win the war against COVID-19?
The fight must continue. There should be more health promotion talks over the radio and television, we should be more careful about the transmission routes, and abide by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Together we can fight COVID-19. If need be, lockdowns should be extended for a reasonable period of time from a health point of view.
What is your final message to people in your country, and others in Africa, at this time of COVID–19?
My final message to the people of the Gambia and to the rest of Africa would be, we must stick to the WHO guidelines, visit health facilities as soon as possible when sick and work together to fight the pandemic. People should know that COVID–19 is real. Stay home and stay safe.