The first outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China – marks the very beginning of our current, ongoing global nightmare. Today, we have nearly 200 million active COVID-19 cases worldwide and almost 5 million global deaths from this deadly disease. And on the very frontline, doctors and nurses are forced to fight face-to-face against this never-ending battle.
If you have been on any social media platforms or news, the image of soulless doctors and nurses are not foreign to you. Everyone in the healthcare industry is covered in layers and layers of protective masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE). There are even videos revealing the marks of prolonged wear of masks and gloves on these poor healthcare workers’ faces and hands.
They are even forced to work long hours, days and weeks to tend these COVID-19 patients on a 24/7 surveillance to ensure their best efforts and sacrifice to save these patients from their deathbeds. Not only do they sacrifice their time and efforts, it is even more heartbreaking that these healthcare workers are forced to be separated from their loved ones to protect them from the harsh and unforgiving environment of their work.
Despite the health risks and exposure, these healthcare workers are facing countless struggles that challenged the healthcare industry from providing the top-level care for these uncertain times.
Demand for Health Professionals and Volunteers
Hospitals from all around the world are flooded with thousands of COVID-19 patients and there are just not enough nurses and health workers to support and manage the overflowing workload. Hospitals and healthcare centers are constantly seeking nurses and health professionals especially for intensive care unit and emergency room positions.
With these challenging conditions, it is often difficult for nurses and health professionals to maintain the same level of care and attention to every patient. Being overworked and constantly exposed to death, many of our front liners are suffering from burnout syndrome (BOS) where they experienced prolonged fatigue and low level of motivation and interest on their job. Without optimal opportunities for recovery, these front liners may be working to their own deathbeds while saving others from it.
We want pay, not claps! We’re human too
It is not strange to see many politicians, celebrities and others praising these healthcare workers for their efforts and sacrifices – even emerging from their comfortable homes to thank and cheer for these front liners. Social media platforms are also flooded with appreciation posts for these health professionals.
Despite that, these nurses and health professionals are not heroes just to be celebrated. Many health professionals believe that they are not being compensated financially in accordance with their services during this pandemic. These acts of appreciation have become a source of frustration for these front liners who are struggling to support themselves and their families due to their low salaries and lack of career opportunities. This is the case for registered Portuguese nurse, Ines Lopes and her colleagues.
“They (politicians) say we are the best in the world but then there are no salary increases… Clapping and thanking us won’t solve anything,” said Lopes. Unfortunately, Lopes and her colleagues are not the only ones facing this challenge.
36 nurses from Virudhunagar Government Medical College Hospital in India were not paid for their temporary services in the COVID-19 ward for 70 days. Even appealing to the hospital management countless times, the group of nurses are unable to be compensated and are still fighting for their rights during these uncertain times.
While COVID-19 nurses and health professionals are being overworked, nurses from other departments that are not deemed as critical units are slowly losing their jobs. Many hospitals that are struggling with massive loss of income are forced to look for alternatives in cutting their costs – causing many nurses to be laid off and terminated.
Due to these difficult circumstances, nurses and health professionals are looking for other income alternatives such as a change of career, building their own online business and even getting loans from licensed money lenders. In order to support their families during these uncertain times, money lenders could be a great alternative to get some extra cash and finance to combat this pandemic as you can get disbursement faster compared to banks.
PPE and Mask Shortages
With everyday cases reaching almost thousands, health facilities from many countries reported to be facing shortages of all types of protective gear – from surgical masks and gloves to respirators and other PPE. These protective gears are in high global demand and have caused a disruption to the global supply for hospitals and healthcare centers. With front liners constantly exposed to the deadly virus, the shortage of these protective equipment makes it even more dangerous for these healthcare workers.
The World Health Organization had requested for PPE manufacturer to increase their production by 40 percent to meet the alarming demands:
“Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real. Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first.” – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General
What can we do?
The efforts and sacrifices made by these health professionals are definitely something noble and to be appreciated. However, politicians and governments have to properly compensate these front liners and protect their rights despite these struggling times.