LTE

July 2021, my phone alarm goes off, it’s 10 a.m.—a reminder of 2020, a year that seems hazy in memory, but yet still alive and painful; 10 a.m. applause would ring out for days for doctors and nurses risking health and life for others, on the frontlines battling the new face of terror—a new disease which we were yet to understand: the novel coronavirus.

Deaths still occur, but the fear has dissipated.

We now know how to fight this disease—the three Ws we hear at each news conference hosted by the Ministry of Health: wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.

There is hope. Vaccines flood the country as borders re-open, as life seems to resume.

Where has the applause gone?

The doctors and nurses who continue to keep us safe helped us battle this disease at its height in 2020, and are once again being asked to go beyond duty to volunteer and vaccine.

Where has the applause gone?

A wise man said, “Do not confuse someone’s free time with their availability,” and this is also true of our health professionals.

Doctors and nurses who work in the public hospitals and health centres, many with no private practice, are asked to give up their free time—time with their families, time to focus on their studies, time with their pets, time with their own solitude for mental health; in public-private partnerships, they are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Where has the applause gone?

Doctors who are on three-month contracts for three years—no right to sick leave and no right to gratuity, and are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Where has the applause gone?

Health professionals who receive no medical insurance from their employers if they themselves get ill in the line of duty are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Where has the applause gone?

The minister of health pays lip service to health professionals at differing times in news conferences. Yet no systems are in place to support medical professionals who are, no doubt, tired—tired of a broken public system which must now look to the private sector to do the Government’s mandate of vaccinating the citizens of a country.

So, yes, tired medical professionals, you are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Will the cheers and ovation ever return?

I turn off my 10 a.m. alarm permanently, as the silence of applause is a sad reminder of the faceless health professional who is asked to be omnipresent—still without applause.

Ray Bernard

Cascade

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