Chakwera awards health workers

By Chimwemwe Njoloma-Mana

President Lazarus Chakwera has awarded 38 health care workers in his first annual ‘Zikomo Presidential Awards’ for their unwavering dedication to service since the country registered its first COVID-19 case.

The award ceremony, that took place at Kamuzu Palace on Sunday evening, saw health care workers across the country being recognised for their hard work amidst so many challenges the health sector has encountered.

In his speech, President Chakwera said he was overwhelmed with gratitude for the abundant patriotism and heroism the country has.

He said he realised that Malawians are the most resilient, industrious, and generous people on earth, and that it was right to celebrate the finest of their numbers.

“Over the past 12 months, Malawi has been like a house set on fire by the raging flames of the COVID-19 pandemic. The health professionals who work in our health facilities have been our trusted fire fighters.

“In every district across Malawi, these medical fire fighters have donned their gear and braved the scorching fury of a deadly virus to save lives and preserve public health,” said Chakwera.

He said the health workers had and are still putting themselves in the harm’s way more than any other sector though it was without award that could adequately repay the debt of gratitude the country owes them.

Among the recipients was Dr Tamara Phiri, a Specialist in Internal Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) and a clinical lead of COVID-19 at QECH.

In her duty, the President said Phiri has distinguished herself as a doctor, showing a positive attitude to patients and her colleagues.

In her remarks, the young doctor said there is a big team that works behind them such as clinical officers, medical assistants and laboratory personnel.

However, she said the importance of such personnel could not be overestimated, but probably they did not get acknowledged as doctors and nurses.

“Every time you hear a COVID-19 positive case reported, know that there are some laboratory personnel that have been exposed to positive COVID-19.

“Without these people, we wouldn’t have the COVID-19 statistics we get every day,” said Phiri.

Dr Phiri also recognised the role of people from different sectors in the health system that equally played an important role in contributing towards the fight against the pandemic.

“I have looked after some of the COVID-19 patients and from them, I have learnt a lot. I have learnt that we are not only there to give medication but also to give hope to our patients,” she said.

She also commended the Head of State for the initiative, acknowledging that it would go a long way in toughing lives of those that have effortlessly cared for COVID-19 patients.

The awardees have been drawn from district and central hospitals across the country including Rumphi, Mzuzu, Phalombe, Nkhata- Bay, Thyolo, Karonga and Salima just to mention a few.

The President said a reward recognises effort, but an award recognises distinction. He, therefore, said it should be obvious that an award cannot be given to many because the distinction that an award celebrates is by its very nature a cut- above- the- rest.

“Nevertheless, in focusing on health workers only in these inaugural Zikomo Awards, we pay tribute to the many health workers the awardees represent.

“To all of those health workers across Malawi, I say on behalf of 19 million Malawians, Zikomo, Zikomo, Zikomo,” he said.

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