29 Aug Sanவாදය – Episode 02
Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitable, but it is the collective effort of the society as a whole that allows you to power through, no matter how hard the path may be. But most importantly, it is the unwavering efforts of the selfless frontline workers that will advance the way we get there.
'The Frontline: A Call of Duty', the second instalment of the series 'SANவாදය', is an awareness program initiated by the Rotaract District Steering Committee 3220 and hosted by the Rotaract clubs of Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Matale, National School of Business Management and Royal Institute of Colombo. This was held on the 21st of August 2021 via zoom platform and the main intention of this session was to educate the public about 'How big of an impact COVID-19 have on the healthcare industry as a whole'. The guest speaker for the session was Prof. Neelika Malavige, Head of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, University of Sri Jayawardenepura.
'Sanவாදය' Episode 2 was moderated by Rtr. Sanidi Edirisinghe with the guest speaker sharing insightful answers and opinions. This COVID-19 pandemic situation undoubtedly has become the most discussed topic today, as we all know how harmful and deadly this virus really is. It has affected everyone including various industries and people in the world, but the healthcare sector had the biggest blow. Prof. Neelika Malavige expounded on the following questions in a friendly yet very informative manner.
She started off the discussion by giving a brief introduction, explaining the current pandemic situation which is completely different than before and the challenges that the healthcare sector is facing because of this pandemic. A few reasons why the healthcare sector is stretched to its breaking point are as follows;
The physical tiredness that the frontline workers contract (which is physically challenging): Prof. Neelika pointed out that there is a physical challenge that workers had to face because of the care they have to give to a larger amount of patients and because they have to wear protective gears including tightfitting masks for a very long time whilst treating Covid patients.
The mental stress they have to deal with (because of the stigma): She stated the sorrowful inconvenience of rejection created by the neighbours for some of the healthcare centre workers at IDH in being received at their homes. Adding to the grief they weren't welcomed in shops while hostel and boarding house occupants were also turned down. Such was the stigma at the beginning of this pandemic.
Resource Limitation: She mentioned that there is a huge scarcity of oxygen supply and they have run out of drugs for pneumonia. And indicated that not only in Sri Lanka but also in most of the developed countries like the USA, are struggling with their limited resources and the limited capacity of the healthcare sector to treat patients well. She pointed out that in New York parks, there were tents to treat people and likewise all countries makeshift hospitals all around the country.
Adding on to the discussion she pointed out that “In Africa, a lot of kids didn’t get their childhood immunizations because routine things were closed. But in Sri Lanka, the childhood immunizations were done routinely and that is a good thing”. After commenting on the maternal and childcare sector, she explained how the population with non-communicable diseases got affected because of this COVID- 19 pandemic. She indicated that in Sri Lanka there are a high proportion of individuals with non-communicable diseases such as Diabetes, Ischemic Heart Diseases and Hypertension. During the Covid-19 pandemic situation, most of the clinics for the non-communicable disease were closed however their medication was sent to their homes. But doctors actually didn’t examine the patient physically. Due to that large proportion of patients died as a result of lack of care especially in the 2nd wave of Covid-19. Moreover, some of the people who are in flats couldn’t access their medicines due to the lockdowns in those areas and died during this pandemic period.
She went on to clear all the doubts regarding risks, side effects for fertility, vaccines, and she also stated that because of using these vaccines there’s no 100% chance of not getting infected by the virus, but we take these vaccines as a reduction in transmission which will lower the risk of dying. The available COVID -19 vaccines such as Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm are highly safe and effective to lower the deaths and end this pandemic as soon as possible.
Then she proceeded to talk about the steps that the global community should take in order to be better prepared for the next pandemic. She mentioned that these things happen as a result of human behaviour. “When we destroy nature, we get more and more pathogens coming in and infect people”, she stated. And also, she pointed out that the main reason for Covid - 19 to spread so fast is because of air travel. “These viruses and pathogens are more devastating than terrorist activities. So, to prevent this we have to start investing in science”, She stated.
Further, she explained that there is no way the pandemic will come to an end just like the pandemics we had in the past like the Spanish flu, but the human immune system will eventually adapt to defend itself against this virus without the shots.
Finishing off the discussion, the awaited Q & A session begun. Prof. Neelika was asked many diverse questions raised by the participants for which she presented clear and meaningful answers. The number of questions posted during this time period was a strong indicator of the success of the awareness session with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thereafter she concluded her session with the ultimate message;
Sink in here to witness the second episode of Sanவாදය
Rtr. Raveesha Munasinghe
Rtr. Dilki Kottage
(Blog Team Member 2021-22)