When Rodrick Mubanga, 61 started experiencing fever, headache, a persistent cough, chest pain and congestion, he knew he had to rush to the hospital. Just a month earlier, his grandson had recovered from the Corona Virus, Rodrick understood that he had the same symptoms.
He immediately visited the hospital where true to his suspicion and fear, he tested positive for COVID-19. As his symptoms were not severe, he was told to go and quarantine from home.
As the rate of infections in Zambia increased with subsequent and more dangerous waves, the country was facing a critical challenge; the shortage of bed spaces in hospitals. As such, asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients were been ordered to isolate at home. This was to reduce the risk to severe overstretching of our hospitals.
Rodrick was concerned with his positive diagnosis, not only for his own health but for his family. He worried about infecting his children with the virus while isolating at home. He visited his local clinic in Bauleni Township in Lusaka, It was at Bauleni Clinic that he got enrolled into the COVID-19 Home Based Care Program.
As means to reduce the risk to severe overstretching of hospitals, DAPP Zambia in partnership with the Center for Dieses Control adopted the Home Based Care approach which involves Community Health Workers looking after COVID-19 infected patients with no or mild symptoms at their home, to take the burden off the healthcare system.
To ensure effective care at home, an assessment of key aspects such as the number of people sharing a house, whether the patient can have a room to self-isolate and whether there is anyone with co-morbidities who could be at risk.
Once the right conditions are met, a DAPP Community Health Worker is assigned to provide care, making frequent visits to check progress. If there are no symptoms, the patient stays at home. If they develop symptoms, the Community Health Worker communicates with a trained health care worker who then decides if a clinician should be sent in to assess if this person must go to a facility.
‘’Immediately I tested positive, I was assigned a community health worker from DAPP who gave me medicine, fumigated my residence as well as sensitized my family on how to live with an symptomatic person in the house and how to avoid getting infected. My oxygen levels were also regularly checked through the visits to my house by the Community Health Worker’’ narrates Rodrick.
Through careful adherence to the measures as prescribed and the frequent monitoring by the DAPP community health worker, Rodrick’s condition improved and none of his family members got infected. ‘’ I am happy I found this program by DAPP, the knowledge and monitoring of my condition I received were vital to my recovery without infecting my family.’’
‘’Because of my experience, I have become a strong advocate for COVID-19 preventive measures, I encourage anyone with symptoms to get tested immediately. I thank DAPP and its program who helped me recover and continue taking care of my family.’’ Says Rodrick.
The Home Based Care Program is working with 68 Community Health Workers across Lusaka province and has tested 110,140 people from April to July, 2021, of which 5,703 were enrolled into the program. Currently 2,485 clients are been monitored and helped.