Fearless frontliners

The coronavirus pandemic has allowed to surface an honorable breed of valorous, if daredevil, Filipinos: The intrepid and lionhearted although often unsung who keep bouncing back from blocks of stress and depression as they stand up to the claws of the unappeasable virus.

Verily, COVID-19 has become today’s super-villain, but it has not checked our real-life heroes from doing their job and tirelessly working to find ways to combat the threat and eventually beat the invisible archenemy.

They are the medical practitioners— laboratory scientists, doctors, nurses, medical technologists, vascular specialists, internists, cardiologists, among others—as well as health care support workers such as orderlies and phlebotomists, direct care workers like home health and personal care aides, health care service workers like housekeepers and cooks as well as those who pick up the trash.

Going to work during this COVID-19 pandemic—now for 13 months of various stages of lockdown in this country—has placed frontline workers under immense and unprecedented pressure, putting their physical, mental and social well-being at risk.

Exposure to excessive stress for prolonged periods can have many harmful consequences on the emotional and mental well-being of frontline workers.

Undoubtedly this intemperate scenario, which has infected and killed in both an aggregate hundreds of thousands, the scores of thousands of recoveries notwithstanding, can lead—in fact it has—to burnout. It has triggered the onset of common mental disorders like depression and anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

This has also resulted in frequent absence from work or reduced productivity while at work, or worst loss of jobs—and millions are, as at this date, off employment—and has increased the risk, although there are no immediate documents and studies as yet, where suicide flirts with frontline workers, particularly health care workers.

In the backdrop of COVID-19, this may mean compromised quality and safety of care, breach of protocols and guidelines, increased risk of infections, and compromised capacity of the health system and emergency response teams.

These frontline workers have not been flustered by the bullets in Bataan, which gave rise to the Filipino heroes during the Second World War, thousands of essential frontline Filipino workers—millions to include those overseas who are Filipino by blood—continue to do their jobs during the pitiless pandemic.

We express our gratitude to them while we execute a sharp salute.

Topics: COVID-19 , Frontliners , Heroes , lockdown , Mental health
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