Edward Namalima, works in the Finance Department at our partner institution, Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW). Edward unfortunately caught COVID-19 in June 2020. Thankfully, Edward has made a full recovery but, had it not been for philanthropic support from the Wellcome Trust and other donors, Edward’s outcome could have been very different.
“I will be 47 in October and I have never been hospitalised before; I have been a perfectly healthy person with no “pre-existing” condition before this. No asthma, no BP, no diabetes, no nothing.
Edward began to feel feverish at the start of June and over the next few days was diagnosed with a bacterial infection and prescribed anti-biotics and pain-killers. Another week passed and Edward was still unwell, this time developing breathing difficulties and averaging a 38 - 39 degrees temperature. Following a hospital visit, Edward tested positive for COVID-19 and was immediately admitted to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (“QECH”) where refurbishment works had just finished on a new oxygen plant with oxygen piping pumping oxygen to bedsides.
Edward was reliant on oxygen for 10 days.
“Before this oxygen plant was installed at QECH, Malawi had no plant whatsoever that could produce oxygen. All oxygen found in hospitals in Malawi was being procured in gas cylinders, the largest being a 19kg cylinder. If it wasn’t for the intervention, I don’t think I would have been here today, telling this story”.
Oxygen, being the primary intervention for most Covid patients, is a scarce and expensive resource in the treatment of Covid-19 in Malawi. Due to the elongated nature of the country, some people are hugely disadvantaged as they are more than 1,000 km away from a steady and cheaper supply of oxygen. This can heavily affect the quality of care that can be provided to Covid-19 patients.