Health professionals are heroes. Honor them | Analysis – analysis
Throughout the world, the fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is underway. And this fight, against an invisible and swift enemy, has shaken the health systems. From world leaders to ordinary citizens, from dignitaries to affected patients, there are a number of points in common in our response to this pandemic: that the well-being of all depends on the advice and timely care of doctors. Health professionals (PS) are indispensable in this battle.
The pandemic has proven to be a great leveler. He has set PS apart in his selfless service to others. But despite this, 15,000 health workers in Spain are now sick or self-isolated, representing 14% of their confirmed cases, according to their health ministry. In Italy, the figure is just below 10%. According to reports, BuzzFeed, a news website, at least 5,400 nurses, doctors, and other health workers in the United States have contracted the virus and dozens have died. The numbers are likely to be much higher. Doctors have been sharing images of colleagues using disposable raincoats, trash bags, and other makeshift materials to protect themselves, as hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude.
The lack of personal protective equipment for the PS is a big crack in the armor. Health professionals, who work very close to each other, as close as one or two feet from infected patients, expose themselves to great dangers several times a day. The more competent and qualified they are, the greater the risks they must assume. They are on the front lines every day, risking their lives to protect the lives of others.
So how has society rewarded the PS during this time? In several places, they face a horrible reality: they have been robbed, locked up in their homes and their families have been rejected. People forget that the role of the PS cannot be substituted. And despite taking every precaution to protect their patients at great personal risk, people are turning their backs on them. They deserve praise and gratitude, not ostracisation. They deserve to be put on a pedestal by society.
In conventional wars, those who give their lives or are seriously wounded in battle are remembered and revered by their nation. They are decorated, called martyrs, and are considered national heroes. War memorials are erected in their honor, and gallantry awards are presented. These tributes not only acknowledge their valiant service to the nation, but increase the morale of the forces and heal the wounds of the families they have left behind. They also receive compensation in the form of land, small businesses, and jobs for their families.
Doctors, nurses, and paramedics are soldiers in different uniforms. Every day, they go to enemy territory to care for those who show symptoms of the virus or those who have already been infected. They come into contact with them physically, to take throat samples, administer intravenous medications, and insert catheters. They must come into contact with the body fluids of infected patients, putting themselves at risk. They have to endure the trauma of watching patients die, despite their best efforts, and suffer exhaustion from long hours of work.
As the number of infected increases substantially every day, healthcare professionals around the world have put aside their fears and concerns, and dared to meet the challenge. They have taken the virus head-on. They require much more than sops, like extending your health coverage or a few words of praise. Some states have doubled the pay of healthcare professionals for a few months. Others have announced considerable compensation for the loss of life. But healthcare professionals deserve more, especially more recognition as the leaders in this battle between life and death, working to improve the infected.
There are several ways to show them that we, as a society, care for and recognize their efforts. Each state must list the PSs working in Covid-19’s intensive care units and isolation rooms. Acknowledge your acts of selfless service and devotion, and acknowledge your service publicly in the media by offering Devatulya Abhinandan (divine greetings). It would be a lasting tribute to the PS that even after the pandemic stops threatening us, their contributions are engraved in gold on the doors of a temple garden. Such gardens must be established in all states. They should be our new temples, our new places of prayer. Of course, the Devatulya Puraskars Awards, awarded with discretion and without prejudice, must coincide with the recognition and respect given to the Chakra Paramveer or the Chakra Surya.
Today they are fighting an unprecedented and difficult crisis. We should reward them for their work as they continue to do so. While we practice social distancing, we sit at home and do what we can in our capacities, they wake up every day to treat the infected. They are our only hope at this time, and we must never forget that.
Shiv Kumar Sarin is director of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.
The opinions expressed are personal