Let the drum rolls begin, repeated curtain calls, loud cheers, and a standing ovation in appreciation of the doctors, nurses and medics risking their lives fighting on the frontlines in the Cornavirus Covid-19 war.
The history of the world is peppered with heroes and heroines who have transcended regular borders and provided extraordinary services to mankind beyond the call of duty.
They come in all shapes and sizes; are of different skin pigmentation and share different religious beliefs, but compassion is the common denominator of all.
Most times they’re so humble, they’re not even aware of the valuable contribution they’re making to humanity, it’s just something they do.
In Bangladesh, a new breed of freedom fighter has emerged. They’re already engaged on the frontline tirelessly fighting for humanity at large.Many armed only with a strip of cheap cloth that masks their nose and mouth for their protection; they bravely face the silent invisible enemy 24/7.
These are the doctors, nurses and medical support staff who valiantly face the enemy in a relentless battle for victory.Their adversary is immeasurable, but that does not deter them.
If it’s true that every compassionate deed performed in this life plants a seed in the soul that blossoms in the next, theirs will be a Garden of Eden.
These unsung heroes and heroines have been among us, humbly going about their work and diligently performing their duty in relative silence for decades.
The Coronavirus Covid-19, however, has catapulted them from relative obscurity and unceremoniously thrown them into the public spotlight making them impossible to ignore. And in so doing many of these dedicated professionals haven’t just met our expectations; they’ve surpassed them.
Sometimes, so focused on helping other people, they’ve dropped their guard; failed to protect themselves adequately (or were inadequately protected) and fell prey to Coronavirus Covid-19, the enemy they set out to conquer. If not for their compassion and the career path they chose, perhaps they would be alive today and enjoying quality time with their families.
They are members of what is most probably the noblest profession of all – the medical profession. Those engaged in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases.
Coronavirus Covid-19, the most serious threat to humanity since the world began, has already changed the world and there’s more to come.
In the grand wash ahed, many governments worldwide will topple. Some politicians will emerge as heroes who did all in their power to support and help the people in their greatest hour of need while others will be revealed as the fast-taking, insincere flim-flam people that they are and have always been.
Only now, however, have the people had the time to think about them, appraise their deeds properly, and accurately measure their contribution to civilization. We have already seen outrageous attempts by some scurrilous high-ups in Bangladesh who literally attempted to take the food out of the mouths of poor people to enrich their own pockets. Thankfully, the RAB were awake to their disgraceful misconduct.
As the great American leader Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has pledged the allocation of one billion taka in special honorarium for the health workers who have been directly involved with the treatment of Covid-19 patients. She will arrange insurance for doctors, nurses, health workers, field-level administrative officials, law-enforcement, armed forces and border guards who are engaged in the fight against the virus. If someone is infected while on duty, they will get health insurance worth between Tk 500,000 and one-million. The amount will increase five times in case of death, she said and added the government is allocating Tk 7.5 billion for the health and life insurances.
All of which is most commendable.While these noble sons and daughters of the soil await their special ‘thank you’, however, their most immediate and essential need right now would seem to be personal protective equipment (PPEs) to battle against the enemy they face today.
To go into battle armed with the mere hope of survival leaves a lot to be desired. No soldier would be expected to face a machine gun armed only with a peashooter. Neither should the dedicated medical professionals be expected to risk their valuable lives.
Ending their lives as Cornavirus Coved-19 martyrs serves no useful purpose. It cannot be emphasized often enough the courageous humanitarian role our doctors and nurses are playing and all they seek for now is protection, respect, and co-operation. No doubt our beloved severely over-worked Prime Minister is attending to that.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing, became a nurse at a time when the profession was considered a degrading occupation and hospitals were cesspools of disease. Nightingale changed that.
While hospitals in Bangladesh are not ‘cesspools of disease’ Coronavirus has given them a challenge never before experienced. In doing so, it’s helped us recognize unsung heroes and remarkable human beings who deserve not only recognition and just reward, but also celebration and a chance to live.
While we have every reason to decry Coronavirus Coved-19, we ought to be grateful to it for bringing into the spotlight the heroes and heroines who have been in the shadows, taken for granted and largely been ignored in the past.
We’re so lucky to have the compassionate, dedicated professional people who don't just meet our expectations, but many times surpass them. They most certainly deserve our honour, respect, and protection and I’m overjoyed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recognises this.
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, an humanitarian, a foreign friend of Bangladesh and a royal goodwill ambassador. <[email protected]>