“People must not let their guard down”
Madani Kane, a pharmacist in a hospital in central Mali, contracted covid-19 and recounts his experience – from the care he received to the period of isolation at home.
Sévaré – Madani Kane speaks softly in the courtyard of his house in the CAN district of Sévaré, where he was self-isolated for two weeks. The 55-year-old pharmacist working at the Somine Dolo hospital in Sévaré, has recovered from Covid-19, and has agreed to share his story. "When I came back from a stay in Bamako, I caught a cold, then, as the signs pointed to Covid-19, I took a test," says Madani Kane. "I had no doubts about the existence of the disease, I knew it was a reality and that there could be complications if you did not intervene early."
When the positive result came back, Madani asked to be cared for at home rather than in hospital. "At first, they were reluctant but when I explained that my family lived in Bamako and that the confinement conditions could be respected, they agreed to let me stay at home. A nurse was assigned to visit me every day to check my vitals. I was given a thermometer and a sheet on which I had to record my temperature. I was also given all the necessary medicines."
Madani received assistance from the NGO COOPI, that is also supported by UNICEF: "They brought me food, rice, milk, oil, cloth, a torch and so on. It was a pleasant surprise" recalls the father of three children.
“The main problem that patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are facing is stigmatisation.” - Dr. Abdoulaye Traoré
Since the start of the pandemic in March, Mali has recorded nearly 7,839 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 310 deaths*. UNICEF Mali and its partners are accompanying the government in its response to the pandemic by providing direct support to those infected with Covid-19.
“The main problem that patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are facing is stigmatisation.”
"We have received material support and training for our staff," explains Abdoulaye Traoré, anesthesiologist and president of the steering committee for the fight against Covid-19 at Somine Dolo Hospital. "To begin with, the seven tents in our Covid department were provided by UNICEF, then the mattresses for patients, as well as the personal protective equipment we use: gowns, visors, gloves, boots, etc." A total of 121 patients from Covid-19 were treated at Somine Dolo Hospital**.
"The main problem that patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are facing is stigmatisation in the community," stresses Abdoulaye Traoré. "This disease was treated as "cursed" and people tended to shun the sick person," regrets the doctor.
As for Madani Kane, he does not think he has been too affected by this stigma: "I called my family to tell them that I had just caught Covid-19 and they told me to stop disclosing it, not to inform people about it. I replied that, on the contrary, l see it as a disease like any other, but that I had to arrange for my relatives to be tested, that's all."
To improve communities' understanding of the disease and limit the effects of the epidemic on the population, UNICEF has conducted several awareness campaigns via local radio stations, through poster campaigns and in public places such as markets, bus stations, mosques, as well as by installing handwashing stations throughout the country.
"We have held round tables on radio, raised awareness in communities, in the hospital compound or at the entrance where a TV set is continuously beaming messages on the Covid-19. It's not overnight that people change their behaviour, it's a long-term process” explains Dr. Abdoulaye Traoré. “We must continue to raise awareness so that they accept the existence of this disease and protect themselves.”
Thanks to the support of German Cooperation (BMZ), UNICEF Mali is implementing new and adapted approaches to ensure essential care is not disrupted and to enable children in all communities to benefit from their right to survival and development despite the pandemic. As a result, between March and October 2020, 20,508 deliveries assisted by qualified persons took place in the Mopti region, i.e. almost 6% more than in 2019 over the same period. Similarly, 22,023 severely malnourished children were taken into care, and this represents an increase of 8.5% compared to the same period the previous year.
However, Madani Kane insists on the importance of taking this disease seriously. "People have to keep observing the protective measures, they must not let their guard down. In Bamako I saw that I was the only one wearing the mask, but people must not think it's over," he warns.