A strength for health workers

When the first Covid-19 case was diagnosed in Sri Lanka followed by the declaration of the emergency state, while we were all staying safely in our houses, the health workers had to shoulder an extra-ordinary burden. Having to continue their usual tasks under new conditions, they had to undertake completely strange and difficult responsibilities.

“Like how the word Tsunami was totally new to us in 2004, so did the word Covid-19 for us in 2020” says Dr Gunasingham Sukunan, Regional Director of Health Services, Batticaloa.

“The health workers were not sure what is this virus about, we were not sure how to keep ourselves and families safe and we were not sure if we could go closer to the people tested positive; but yet we had to be confident when we treated the patients and consoled their loved ones” he says.

“We had two primary challenges. One was that we faced a shortage of vital medical supplies used to mitigate, diagnose and treat Covid-19. We had limited access to hybrid medical equipment and lacked devices like ventilators, oxygen cylinders, multiparameter and test kits. We found it hard to build trust among the public as they refused to believe that we can treat them better in absence of these supplies.”

“The other challenge was to keep our staff encouraged and willing to be deployed for pandemic response. There were number of staffs who requested me to change them to a different unit from Covid-19 isolation centres. But we made them feel safe and secured and we ensured they comply with clinical duty, through conducting a series awareness session, provision of full range of personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizing stations and N95 masks” doctor says.

He continues, “I know that in number of cases our hospital staff do not tell their friends, families and neighborhood that they are working with Covid-19 infected. Because they feared that this might cause unnecessary panic among them and they might also tend to see the staff differently”.

“We are glad that World Vision Lanka is one among the few government and non-government organizations that came forward to help the most vulnerable from the pandemic. The Covid-19 Prevention Project of World Vision Lanka supported by the European Union, equally cared for the health workers and the public and provided the required medical supplies worth millions and conducted several awareness sessions on Covid-19 prevention and mitigation and supported in massive vaccines roll-outs. World Vision is one of the key reasons behind our successful mitigation of this virus and together we have treated more than 65,000 Covid-19 patients”.

“The medical supplies they have provided have definitely upgraded the infrastructure facilities of the hospitals in this district of Batticaloa. Those supplies can continue to treat the public even when the pandemic phases out” doctor concludes.

Funded by European Union, this project focuses on enhancing Covid-19 prevention, care, and treatment capacity of the health system by providing essential equipment and improving access to vaccination for the most vulnerable groups, including the elderly and persons with a disability. 

The project distributes medical equipment such as oxygen regulators, ECG machines, multiparameter monitors, defibrillators, C-PAP and Bi-PAP machines, patient management supplies, and items for infection prevention and control to 29 Covid-19 treatment facilities in 8 districts.

The project also provides operational assistance to the Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, closely coordinating with the Regional District Health Services (RDHS) to reach the most vulnerable groups (people with disabilities and the elderly) through vaccination clinics and mobile vaccination campaigns in the rural areas.