The agonizing mental trauma of frontline fighters is becoming a matter of concern since, thousands of healthcare personnel, police, government officials, are working round the clock to reduce the spread of deadly coronavirus. They are working tirelessly without even enjoying leave for personal reasons. Many of them are experiencing distress, at the time feeling cooked up, left alone, may finding it monotonous, claustrophobic. The work is getting on their nerves. They are quickly becoming pessimistic, introverted. Dull, boring life is pressing them hard. Since the corona catastrophe last year, we have lost more than two hundred doctors, many nurses and health workers due toCovid-19. More than 5, 478 doctors and nurses have been infected. It is no surprise that studies revealed how healthcare professionals are suffering from exhaustion, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and more due to their long working hours, the stress of treating critical patients, and the helplessness they feel when they cannot save many patients. The reduction in infection rates at the beginning of this year only brought momentary relief. As the situation got worse in the subsequent weeks, things are back to square zero. The question is do they require help? Have we ever thought about it? We cannot imagine the medical sector without them. They are our warriors who are always with us. We are ready to criticize; we are bound to get their service. Yes almost all of them have taken the responsibility, wilfully, they also want to serve. They are our valiant frontline fighters, they will definitely be successful against this fight, and they have proved that time and again. To do that, they shall have to be fit physically as well as mentally. We all know a healthy body in a healthy mind can ensure the best possible service. We as a nation are grateful to them; their service will be written in history, in our mind. Currently, the whole world is reeling to fight an unknown enemy. We have to ensure that those in need of help are identified early and offered proper assistance. If we start losing them due to sickness, the other group shall feel double pressure, crippling the service line. On government order healthcare workers are working without leave for the last twenty-one months. Yet they have not received any incentive bonus.
One of the commonest disabling mental health issues experienced by personnel in the front-line of any pandemic is getting burnout. It is like emotional exhaustion, depersonalization that means loss of empathy, caring, and compassion, and a decreased sense of accomplishment. These may exist in varying degree or one can predominate. Burnout can have a significant impact on competence and can impact health care delivery. Unknowingly a person may become inefficient for no known reason. Always there may be concern about the unknown virus, from where it may appear. Fear, anxiety, inadequate personal protective materials and feeling of insecure are cause for damage of their mental health. Even with long separation from family might make him depressed. All personnel in the front lines should be made aware to take their personal care by themselves. Activities regarding emotional, physical, relational, and religious wellness should be the topmost priority. Everyone should maintain routine, work breaks and adequate sleep is a must to reorganize. Regular communication with relatives, friends for time pass can help. Regular activities and hobbies can take pressure off work. Exercise not only keeps someone fit but also boosts immunity to reduces stress, controls blood pressure, maintains normal body functioning. A healthy diet during COVID-19 can help boost immunity.
The authorities have social, moral, professional responsibilities. To reduce the stress of the health care workers, a congenial working atmosphere like improvement of a personal relationship between colleagues can bring back confidence. One worker must be on rotation duty so that he can understand tha the will get relief after stress, it can be an excellent tool for recharging. The shifting system, incentive holidays should be ensured. From time to time up-gradation of the latest information is a must. Open-mindedness is the key since depression can happen to anybody. Authority should not feel deterred to refer any member who appears to have uncontrollable distress for assessment and intervention to specialist health service. There is an increased risk of healthcare workers themselves being infected or quarantined. In addition to stress related to quarantine, most experiences increased concern that their absence will create more understaffing issues. A sudden separation from their team also means an increased likelihood of experiencing more social isolation. It is essential that staff in quarantine feel supported by their immediate colleagues. At all times, professionals must remain aware of the legal and ethical obligations of protecting patient confidentiality. Personnel working in hospitals in times of pandemic often experience negative attitudes from the general public, which may be humiliating for frontlines. Authority and the media have a responsibility to uphold the reality. It is a matter of pity and shame for those who fail to understand the importance of those who are there in a time of need. Policymakers should implement programs of honouring front line personnel and acknowledge their role using various platforms. All should remember that heroes never die. If you are sacrificing your life for the helpless, diseased, needy, you will be rewarded. It shall come to you, definitely, you shall be rewarded! Either this way or that way, you have definitely nothing to lose, all is to gain. Recent studies have revealed the woeful state of the mental health of our country's healthcare professionals amidst a raging pandemic. Over the last year, doctors and nurses across the country have firmly stood beside the virus-stricken patients at the risk of losing their own lives, and they continue to do so. But this has taken an immense physical and mental toll on many of them which must be addressed. It is our responsibility to stay safe from the virus by practising health guidelines adamantly. The pandemic has shown that we need more doctors and nurses as well as counselling facilities for those who are overwhelmed by the demands of treating Covid-19 patients. The policymakers must address these crucial issues, which, if left unaddressed, will further weaken our health sector.
Zubair Khaled Huq, Family Medicine, Gerontology, Public Health Specialist
AL MaMun (4 Golds)
Sunday, 16 May 2021, 10:21 PM