Called to serve
Candiru, a nursing officer, shares her typical day during the COVID-19 pandemic
Delivering critical health services by committed health workers, remains a priority for all nations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In Yumbe District, at Midigo Health Centre IV, Judith Candiru an Assistant Nursing Officer is one such hero. At the peak of the pandemic and even when she contracted COVID-19, Candiru did not ever think about abandoning her call to serve, especially the most disadvantaged people in her community. Recalling the stigma, she and her family endured that time, Candiru notes that “This was the saddest moment of my career. I and my family where shunned by the community.” She worried about her children, parents, and husband. Despite the sad experience, Candiru has since recovered and bounced back to work, passionately serving the people, something that motivates and brings her joy.
On a typical day, Candiru starts early with a trip to a nearby borehole to collect clean water for her household. As the sun rises, she heads out, slowly and gently she pumps water into a 20 litre jerrycan that she later balances on her head back home.
As a health worker, Candiru is aware that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The mother of three, then embarks on preparing a simple breakfast for her family. Before she heads out to work, the family enjoys their breakfast of tea, yams, and peanut butter together. “Seeing my children happy and healthy, gives me a lot of joy.”
While growing up, Candiru admired the white nurses’ outfit and the care they provided. Now that she is one of them, she takes pride in her sharp white nurse’s uniform complete with a yellow belt. Once she has it on, Candiru remembers to wear a mask to ensure she is protected while attending to patients This she never forgets.
Before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, infection prevention and control (IPC) is critical in health facilities to curb infections. With UNICEF support, Candiru and other health workers have been trained in IPC to enhance protection of themselves and the patients they serve. Candiru has mastered this, and her routine includes clean her working environment upon arrival.
Her first stop is the maternity ward where she checks on preterm babies, weighing them to monitor their growth before they return to the kangaroo pouches with their mothers for warmth. Through UNICEF-supported training, Candiru is competent in supporting small and sick babies to breath and thrive.
Even with COVID-19, pregnant mothers continue to flock Midigo Health Centre IV. They want to deliver safely with support from health workers. Candiru and the other health workers are on standby to provide them with the necessary healthcare – checking their height, weight, blood pressure and the fetal heartbeat to ensure they are safe and their babies growing well.
When the ward rounds and routine clinics are completed, Candiru heads out to the communities, taking health services closer to those that can’t make it to the health facility. “I enjoy interacting with the community members especially in the local language that they understand.”
She carries along a megaphone to amplify the messages to as many people as possible. To the markets, trading centres, Candiru will go. But what motivates Candiru? “When I treat a patient and they go home healthy and happy and when I provide health services e.g. immunization and the person is satisfied and pleased,” she shares.
With the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination across the country continuing, Candiru supports with vaccinations using her story as an example. After sensitizing the communities on the benefits of taking the vaccine, she vaccinates the eligible persons. One by one she inoculates them until the last one on the bench.
These and many other healthcare services provided by Candiru and other health workers are supported by UNICEF in partnership with Ministry of Health and financial assistance from the Johnson and Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation. The Johnson and Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation has enabled more nurses and midwives to work at the center and in the community, and has also provided critical equipment and training for these health care workers to operate.