Covid 19 stigma against malaria in Africa.

Finally Nairobi lockdown is lifted and you quickly rush to the village coz city life was unbearable. You were working in some factory in Kitengela and you were laid off coz of the negative business environment.

You arrive in western or Nyanza and the mosquitoes here feast on coz you are new blood and a new different meal(something like that actually exists! )

Ten days you later you developed fever, headaches and joint pains. Coupled with the fact that you left your house and beddings for so long, dust mites had invaded it during your absence and so there you start sneezing coz of an allergic reaction to dust. You are not lucky coz your favourite cousin, who is having a cold insist on hugging you and also sneezes on your face and there you also catch a cold.

Now combine very high fevers, joint pains, severe headache, dry cough and sneezing with difficulty in breathing due to allergic reaction to dust. At this Corona times these are things you could be be treated but now they are likely to kill you!

Anyway coz you have not lost hope on humanity you carry yourself to the nearest health centre and before you have even admitted they take your temperature and we can all guess what happens next. You have all the ‘classical symptoms of Corona’ and calls are quickly made to the covid team in your county and the attendee clinician quickly shuns you and announces to you minus testing

“Hatuwezi kukuhudumia hapa sababu uko na Corona!” Yes you have been diagnosed with out testing (remember how losing weight equals to HIV?). Your condition is now worsening but you are locked out of the hospital.

The boda boda guy that brought you disappears after getting wind that you have the dreaded virus. Everyone shuns you…. cost of the rejection and stigma your brain starts playing tricks on you, you get into a panic attack and starts hyperventilating which only makes your symptoms and now someone decides that you need ICU services.

Your family decides to convince the local rich man and you are bundled into his Peugeot 404 and the journey starts to the county hospital. Upon reaching there you are informed that the 4 bed capacity ICU is full (even though it has 3 beds empty. I mean the medics there don’t want to risk coz the govt has not provided for them PPEs!). They refuse to allow you in and give you options of available hospitals for ICU services.

Calls are made around and yes the cheapest hospital that has a bed demands 100k per day for admission with a deposit of 200k before they can give you that bed. You ran away from Nairobi coz you were laid off and the three months were pure struggle but right now your life is on the balance as you need 200k urgently to live.

While still in that Peugeot now sweating, shivering and coughing calls are made. Your father, with an old dirty worn out Gor Mahia mask at a distance comes to discuss with you.
Yes they are considering selling the last piece of land that you had come to farm, that plot or acre of land you had been given. I mean it’s your life or the land. These are worldly riches and you reason that once you are alive you can always get money.

Coz the land owner is desperate the land is sold at a throw away price, swindled and conned but you want to live. Deposit and you are finally admitted to the ICU. Before you are admitted there that’s when someone takes covid test, just to be sure though you have already been labelled covid positive. You have to wait for the results in three days time!

Luckily for you some clever doctor decides to do a malaria test (lucky coz some will just leave you on the machine as they wait for the results and you will die before three days elapse!).

Malaria parasites are found and you are started on antimalarial. Coz ICU is extremely clean the allergy to dust disappears and the difficulty in breathing stops. Now you only have to deal with the incessant cough!

Three days later your Corona test come back negative but you are 300k short due to a wrong diagnosis. Something that would have been treated with drugs worth 200 shillings but coz of the stigma you have to fork out all that cash!

The government thinks its helping by announcing the cases daily and hyping up the Corona thing but it’s just worsening the stigma. So many people are going to die of things that could be easily cured but we are being made to be afraid of everyone that has a high temperature. We are being made to neglect patients with coughs and fever as if before corona there was no one with headaches and coughs!

The above is a good scenario of someone that can afford, what about those who don’t have money for ICU? How many people are going to die at hospital gates, parking areas or at home for something treatable just coz they have a fever and cough and sometimes difficulty in breathing?

Don’t blame the doctor here coz the govt is not providing PPEs for us in as much as it’s creating fear and stigma about the virus. As long as we are not provided protection we are not going to risk and yes we have families too.!

God bless Kenya