Frontline health workers from Sub-Saharan Africa share the reality of the current COVID surge

Dear Samantha,

After more than a year of intensive service on the frontlines of the pandemic, HEAL Initiative fellows from Liberia, Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda are facing yet another deadly surge of COVID-19 in their regions.

In a recent update, HEAL Fellows and Alumni Drs. Emmanual Bua, Wellars Dusingizimana, Savior Mendin, and George Talama voice their valuable perspectives and insights on how this wave of COVID infections and coordinated response efforts have been remarkably different at both a personal and systemic level.

Hear from HEAL Fellows

Health workers across the globe are facing uncertainty, burnout and working tirelessly in deeply difficult contexts to save the lives of their patients. At times their patients are our friends and families who we want to receive the best medical care, from health professionals who are healthy and protected. Yet, even now, not all global health workers have access to vaccines.

This week, the Biden Administration prepares to offer booster shots for all vaccinated Americans. This will greatly worsen the deep vaccine inequity we are seeing across the world. Rich countries have taken 80% of the vaccine supply and are positioned to receive a third dose when our colleagues and patients around the world remain extremely vulnerable.

At HEAL, we stand by the World Health Organization’s stance that we must vaccinate 10% of all countries by September 30th before even considering boosters. 10% is a very conservative and low number. Delaying vaccination of the world is causing evolutionary pressure on the virus and increasing the odds of future variants.

In this critical moment, HEAL fellows remind us that change is possible and it's happening now. Read more on our blog to hear 3 ways that you can move in solidarity with frontline health workers across the globe in this critical time.


Sri and The HEAL Team

HEAL Fellow and Alumni Updates


Dr. Wellars Dusingizimana, HEAL Alumni, Site Fellow at Inshuti Mu Buzima/Partners in Health, Rwanda

“It has been so long with this pandemic which started in Rwanda sporadically in early 2020. Surges happening then were not causing much panic. Now, the current surges of the Delta variant are killing more people, of all ages, and damaging the lungs so early. Rwandan response efforts have been intensified, with a marathon to vaccinate, reinforce district hospitals, educate the population and enforce regional lockdowns where COVID is surging.”

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Dr. George Talama, HEAL Alumni, Site Fellow at Abwenzi Pa Za Umuyo/Partners in Health, Malawi

“Hospitals in Malawi were unprepared in the first wave. Now there have been big changes and much improvement. Staff is trained, they know what to do when there is a patient with COVID, there are screenings and health facilities that are more resourced by government and donors, and services are being offered routinely. We are normalizing the situation.

The pandemic has helped us as a country to wake up in terms of being prepared, putting resources into our health facilities."

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Dr. Savior Mendin, HEAL Alumni, Site Fellow at Last Mile Health, Liberia

“Personally, I feel a lot more confident to continue to serve as a health worker because I am fully vaccinated. Hopefully many of my colleagues feel the same. I am hopeful that we will continue to look beyond vaccine hesitancy and prioritize vaccine availability in settings like Liberia."

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Dr. Emmanuel Bua, HEAL Fellow 2021 Cohort, Site Fellow at Busitema University/Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda

“I am learning to be innovative. I am beginning to ask myself how best my work can fit in all these scenarios. How I can be of value and influence even as we face uncertainty. I am reminded everyday that part of my duty as a doctor is to advocate for my patients in moments like these.”

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Holding Haiti in our hearts

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Read HEAL's open letter on the crisis in Haiti and our efforts to support our partners, colleagues and friends.

For those who are able, we recommend donating to the below organizations:

  • Equal Health Provides support to Haitian medical students and nursing students working on social medicine in Haiti and is organizing a mutual support fund for the current crisis


Educate yourself about the conditions that created today's crisis.


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