We have all had significant challenges over the last couple of years with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving virtually no one unaffected.
Doctors and health workers in particular have had to bear a disproportionate share of the burden. Many of our colleagues, particularly overseas have even paid the ultimate price.
The WHO estimated that up to 180,000 health workers died from Covid between early 2020 and November 2021. There was recently a memorial service for 50 UK doctors that died. By as early as April 2020, 150 Italian doctors and 40 Italian nurses had died of Covid. More than 3,600 US health workers died in the first year of Covid.
We, in this country are truly lucky that we didn’t have large early surges and that when the larger numbers did transpire we mostly had the strategies and equipment to deal with it fairly effectively.
Most of the developed world is now fairly well equipped to handle future surges as long as the virus doesn’t trick us again with a more lethal variant and as long as the large majority of people listen to science and keep vaccinations up to date.
Unfortunately, this is not the situation in Africa where there is still not enough PPE, not enough oxygen, not enough ventilators and woefully low rates of vaccination. In this extremely dangerous milieu, our colleagues continue to deliver babies, operate on fistulas, cataracts, trachoma sufferers, and deliver the ongoing healthcare that keeps people alive and functioning.
Here’s an email I received just a few days ago from Andrew Browning, principal and surgeon at Barbara May Foundation. He also sent the photos below.
“Thanks Rob, I hope all is well with you.
I’m just back from Africa and hope to get back in June God willing.
The war in Ethiopia has seen the destruction of many clinics in the Afar area and one hospital. Fortunately, ours is unharmed although the fighting came within about 40km. We received many casualties. There are also around 300,000 displaced people on the move fleeing the fighting with no food, no water, no one to help, but BMF is helping supply food and health care through Valerie Browning’s NGO in Ethiopia.
Also, we’ve been working as normal through the pandemic, so lots of women delivered, lots of fistula treated and there are more fistula patients due to the pandemic as women couldn’t get to hospitals as easily and were more likely to deliver at home.
We in Australia don’t all have to risk our lives and go there personally in order to effectively deliver extra health services and improve safety for all. Please consider this privilege to help.
“Doctor’s Day in May” has arrived.
Regards to all,
On behalf of the Directors of the Twice the Doctor Foundation
PS: Please consider sending this communication to any or all of your medical colleagues.