This year, South Africa marks 65 years since 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to protest the extension of Apartheid pass laws to women.

Today, women still play a key role in society, as evidenced by their strength and courage in their significant contribution to the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the nation commemorates Women’s Day, Health-e News looks at how the rural community of Mthimude in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal, is benefiting from the role that women play during the current health crisis.

The COVID-19 outbreak has noticeably expanded the role of South African community health workers, as they take on more responsibility in the areas of health education and awareness.

Sizakele Mlambo, a nutrition advisor at Mthimude Clinic, is a key player in raising health awareness in her rural community, championing the importance of healthy nutrition during these unprecedented times.

She explained that the intake of healthy nutrition is vital for strengthening the immune system, which is key to surviving the pandemic.

Providing health education

Mlambo said her day-to-day duties include proving health education to patients about healthy diets and nutritional intake, especially for those who are vulnerable to succumbing to COVID-19, such as people suffering from diabetes, people living with HIV, pregnant women, asthma sufferers, the elderly and those with other chronic conditions.

“My daily duties are to provide nutritional education to our patients, especially those who are vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. I also educate new mothers about nutritional feeding of their babies,” she added.

She highlighted the importance of eating nutritionally balanced food, including the intake of food with starch and protein, as well as the daily intake of fruit and vegetables, and importance of eating breakfast.

With COVID-19 currently being the main challenge for the healthcare system, patients with comorbidities remain the most vulnerable.

“Poor nutrition has a bad impact on the effectiveness of COVID-19 treatment. If you don’t eat a balance diet, the treatment won’t be as effective like for someone who eats nutritional food,” Mlambo said. – Health-e News