Humanity at its best as Muslim groups on frontline face Covid onslaught

By Al Qalam reporter

Amidst the endless gloom, there is hope on the horizon as hundreds of volunteers and Muslim NGO’s and charity groups have put themselves on the frontline to ease the suffering of stressed-filled  Covid patients – administering lifesaving medicine, oxygen and even food delivered to their doors.

If ever there were a symbol of Muslim humanity, this is one of them. The massive humanitarian effort by so many Muslims who are selflessly contributing to ease the suffering of thousands has not gone unnoticed. In every town and city across South Africa, there are groups of Muslim volunteers doing what they can to make life bearable – and to give comfort to the families whose loved ones have perished.

In Durban, facebook posts are awash with calls to those afflicted with Covid to seek help – and it would be given in no time.

For example, the COVID Day Care Facility set up at Ahmed Al Kadi Hospital in Durban, has brought immense hope to hundreds of communities. The free service fills the gap for those patients requiring care but not overnight hospitalisation. Patients are able to access the care and treatment required in a hospital setting with the relevant specialist onsite to properly access and manage them. This allows for beds to free up in the main hospital facility for those patients who require urgent hospitalisation.

The Covid Day Care Facility –the first of its kind in the country – was set up rapidly by several NGOs and humanitarians led by Muslims for Humanity (MfH) and including Natal Memon Jamaat (NMJ), Islamic Medical Association (IMA), Caring Sisters Network (CSN), Al Imdaad Foundation, Darul Ihsan Humanitarian Centre and Jamiatul Ulema KZN.

While initially a 20 bed facility, the capacity has since increased to a 36 bed facility.

Ebrahim Asmal the Hospital General Manager at Ahmed Al Kadi Hospital said this was a joint CSI project partnership with several NGOs and humanitarians, with a commitment that “no patient will be turned away due to lack of funds” says Asmal.

“It is a triage centre as well as a facility offering day outpatient support and services to COVID patients by ensuring proper assessment and outpatient management in a bid to prevent hospitalization. Examples of such services include IV therapy and oxygen therapy. We will try to prevent the serious onset of symptoms with a routine outpatient visitation schedule including radiology and pathology studies, for patients to be properly managed in a hospital setting to prevent the serious onset of COVID symptoms”.

This facility was set up in a short space of time in an effort to support the hospital during this second wave of this national disaster. Due to demand for similar facilities, the group of NGO’s and humanitarians have since set up similar facilities at Midlands Medical Centre in Pietermaritzburg, Hibiscus Hospital in Port Shepstone and Hibiscus Cato Ridge Hospital, said Imraan Jooma the Project Coordinator and NMJ representative in this joint relief initiative.

Jooma said the good news is that the number of people streaming in was dropping, so that might indicate a wane in infections.

Dr Yakub Essack, National President of the Islamic Medical Association (IMA) said: “The second wave is putting a strain on medical staff, many of whom are also being inflicted with the Covid virus and unfortunately some of them are succumbing to this pandemic. This is off course not only reducing the availability of human resources at medical facilities but also posing an emotional drain on frontline workers. However, we are constantly adapting and quickly finding solutions to assist in setting up these facilities”.

Partnership

Muslims for Humanity (FfH) said during this time of crisis, it was heartening to see volunteers, donors and humanitarians contributing whatever skills and resources they had available at such short notice. “The skills that each of these NGOs bring to this initiative are complimentary to one another and it was due to the cooperation and willingness of these NGOs to work together as well as the support of the various hospitals and their management that these facilities were setup within hours from planning. 

“We are working in equal partnership with all the NGOs as well with the private hospitals in a public/private partnership. Our humanitarian groups jointly sets up each facility, with each of us contributing whatever resources we have and thereafter the private hospitals manages and runs the facility.

“Once operational, our group continues to provide support services including counselling and other assistance required at each hospital, its team members and especially the patients”.

Meanwhile, Facebook user, Veerisha Singh thanked the Muslim community for their humanitarian efforts. She wrote that she was impressed with the “outburst of humanity” from the Muslim community who swung into action to help everyone.

“I salute every Muslim and the organizations for a tremendous contribution to humanity.”

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