Celebrating local heroes: Nurse Júlia Vasco, Mozambique

During the coronavirus pandemic, the job of healthcare workers is more vital than ever. We speak to nurse Júlia Vasco in Mozambique.
Nurse Júlia Vasco, Mozambique (c) Light for the World

During the coronavirus pandemic, the job of healthcare workers is more risky, and more vital than ever before.

Mother of four, Júlia Vasco, is a nurse at the Nhaconjo Health Unit, on the outskirts of Beira, Mozambique. 

She is part of Light for the World’s Every Life Matters project, which aims to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in health systems; particularly regarding access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and information.

Like most people, Júlia is taking all the protective measures she can to protect herself, her family and the rest of the community from COVID-19. Nonetheless, her profession can make this difficult and she worries that one day she could bring the virus home.

“Everyday, as soon as I get home from work, I remove my uniform (which could potentially be contaminated) and have a thorough wash. My family help by leaving some of my clothes outside, so that I can clean myself and change before entering the house. Only after this ritual, do I feel it’s safe for me to interact with them.”

During consultations, Júlia warns her patients about staying at home wherever possible to try and reduce the spread of coronavirus, and briefs them on other preventative measures they can take.

To try and ensure patients and healthcare workers are kept safe, all elective procedures at the hospital Julia works in have been postponed, and patients must sit at least 2 metres apart in waiting rooms. 

There are also some disinfection tunnels and other hygiene measures around the city and near big health units.

Despite all the efforts made to keep people informed, Júlia feels that many are not taking the disease seriously, and they’re not fully aware of how contagious it is, and how disastrous its consequences could be. 

The fact that there is not enough personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, in her health centre makes her daily work all the more challenging.

“In my 11 years working as a nurse, this is the first time I feel threatened by my profession,” she says.