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Dr. Sompwe Mwansa

Registrar and Anaesthesia Liaison for ICU

Dr Sompwe Mwansa, Registrar and Anaesthesia Liaison for ICU at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, is involved in the delivery of the Health Worker Action Fund project implemented by the Global Anaesthesia Development Project in partnership with the Society of Anaesthetists of Zambia to ensure that anaesthesia providers in Zambia are sufficiently trained and protected during the global pandemic.

‘When news of Zambia’s first Covid-19 positive patients broke, we tried hard to carry on as normal, while also trying to prepare ourselves for a surge in cases as we moved along the curve. The work environment had an underlying current of anxiety at all levels as we didn’t know what to expect in terms of case load and presentation, whether or not we would have enough protective equipment for staff or if we had enough drugs and equipment to provide adequate patient care.

As it became evident that we had established community transmission the majority of elective cases were put on hold and in the department the focus shifted to optimising both staff and equipment to ensure we would be able to launch a response to a huge surge in cases. This included rotas of work and rest weeks for the doctors. As we have gained an understanding of the pattern of disease in our population – the majority of patients have had asymptomatic or mild disease, this has helped ease anxiety among members of staff, who have adapted to a work environment with increased attention of infection prevention. We are starting to reintroduce elective lists and have a plan in place for the management of Covid-19 suspected or confirmed patients, both on ICU and in theatre, though adequate availability of PPE does remain a point of anxiety.

Despite having to withdraw in-country trainees, GADP has provided continuous support throughout: sharing experience and information from managing Covid-19 patients in the UK and other LMICs; supporting staff wellbeing; regular teaching to support exam preparations; and the procurement of essential PPE.’

Read more about the GADP Health Worker Action Fund project here.