by Jerry Francis
It has taken the COVID-19 pandemic for us to open our eyes and sincerely appreciate the role of the healthcare frontliners.
Otherwise, their essential service is being often taken for granted by most of us because we fail to pause for a moment and notice how they care for the health of the people in the country daily with full dedication.
Even the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had, at the opening of Parliament session on May 18, called on all those present to rise and give a round of applause to show appreciation to all the healthcare frontliners.
“They are making sacrifices without any regard to tiredness or fear of putting their own lives on the line to look after the safety and interests of the public,” said the Agong.
It is not only in Malaysia, but also all over the world. As we could see, there has been a sudden surge of appreciation being given to the healthcare frontliners in the past few months.
In China, thousands of people turned up on the streets to cheer the healthcare frontliners as they were leaving Wuhan after completing their task; in Italy, residents in a suburb got out to their balconies to cheer and clap as a show of appreciation; and in the United States, the residents of a county drove in a motorcade past the home of a doctor also as a show of appreciation.
For most of us during the peak of the pandemic, our task was to stay home and stay safe. It was our only contribution towards combating the deadly contagious coronavirus. Social distancing is crucial in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have spread uncontrollably had the Movement Control Order (MCO) not been enforced on March 18 to place the whole country under partial lockdown for about three months.
Yet, thousands violated the MCO as they could not cope with the need to stay indoors for extended periods of time. According to the police, over 26,000 were arrested during the strict initial lockdown period. This included politicians, golfers, joggers and as well as those attending birthday parties and funerals.
The healthcare frontliners could only watch helplessly and hope the violators of the MCO would not be infected and start new clusters of infection, which they were desperately trying to stop.
But they did not just remain in despair, instead they continued to care for the ones affected by the pandemic. Their efforts have been ranked as one of the top in the world in the healthcare category.
They are heroes. Like the members of the security forces, who had and will continue to protect the country against its enemies.
In the case of COVID-19, it is an invisible enemy. With just some protective gear, the healthcare frontliners are entering the “battlefields” daily to take care of those infected by the coronavirus.
Not only do they have to be “rela dikorban” in the course of their duty, they must also worry about taking the virus home to their loved ones. In fact, many of them have been infected, and this even resulted in cases of death.
Are we and the nation content with just singing praises to the healthcare frontliners? Certainly we can do better than that to show our gratitude.
I hope when this battle is over, the nation will mint a special commemorative medal to mark yet another victory and present it to all healthcare frontliners in the country, who answered to the call of duty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Posthumously, those who had given their lives should also have their dependants be given financial assistance.
The nation has paid many tributes to members of the security forces during major security threats, such as the fight against communist insurgents from 1948 to 1989, the Malaysian-Indonesian Confrontation in 1962-1966 and the Lahad Datu incursion in 2013. Monuments were erected and medals were awarded in recognition of the sacrifices of members of the security forces during the internal and external threats.
Likewise, why not similarly recognise the sacrifices of our healthcare frontliners and let it go down in our history as a grateful nation’s tribute to them?
Keep it up, healthcare frontliners! The people and the nation will always cherish your noble contributions and sacrifices.