Plight of the medics

An ode to the frontline medical staff

By Dr A Mohamed Hakkim

Published: Wed 19 May 2021, 5:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 May 2021, 2:53 PM

The Covid-19 pandemic might have appeared to be taking rest in front of the public eye for the past few months until the recent second wave. But for doctors, the story hasn't stopped since March 2020 when the first wave hit the country.

Almost all doctors were putting themselves at risk, standing on the frontline against an enemy - the novel Coronavirus, which can't be seen. The layers of personal protective equipment (PPE), the N95 masks, the three-ply masks, face shields, latex gloves, and the list goes on; armouring themselves against the virus, which would sneak past all the protection by just an accidental opening of the PPE or the few seconds when the doctor lifts his mask to drink a glass of water.

Wearing PPEs for hours together comes with its own myriad drawbacks, known and suffered only by frontline healthcare staff. The exhaustion, dehydration, latex allergies, contact dermatitis, and infections due to excessive sweat inside the kits are today part and parcel of the healthcare sector.

Apart from being physically draining, the mental health of the doctors is also badly hit. From not being able to see their family for months together to losing a beloved colleague, losing friends, family members, spouses to the virus, the worst part being that they cannot attend the last rites of the people they loved because they themselves would be locked up in quarantine after their Covid-19 shifts.

In comparison, the public has more privilege in matters of family and friends. The total time spent in quarantine due to constant Covid-19 rotations for the past year has hit the mental health of doctors to the worst levels.

Public carelessness towards the disease has made it worse for healthcare workers. With the second wave, we are now in a much worse place than we were during the first wave. The peak and the daily number of cases are increasing at a rate our tertiary care centres aren't prepared for. With house surgeons completing their courses, the entire weight of Covid-19 has fallen on post-graduates, residents and the professors.

It's time we all address the seriousness of the problem and stay indoors, maintain social distancing, wear masks and go out only for necessities. Let's give healthcare workers our best so that all of us can survive for a better tomorrow.

- Dr A Mohamed Hakkim is an emergency physician from India who is a visiting consultant at NMC Royal Hospital Khalifa City - Abu Dhabi.

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