COVID – ACT III, When do I get off the stage?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Aiman Nadeem, a third year medical student, currently completing her MBBS in Pakistan and a member of IFMSA-Pakistan since 2019. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

It’s been 398 days. 398 days since I last hugged my father. As I get off the call with him, a frontline worker a few thousand kilometers away from me, I can hear the exhaustion in his voice, hear the pleading for the disaster to end and for a family to reunite, but still hope is a strong motivator. Hope helps us go through the same routine day in and day out. I strike off another number from my calendar and understand how prisoners must feel. It has been the same day on repeat like a bad sit-com ever since C-Day i.e. 16th March, 2020.

COVID, the robber of the best days of my university life, hit the world without warning. As the world continues to see a steady increase in cases, and second lockdowns are being implemented to stop the spread of the virus globally, we can allow ourselves to be a little bit of optimism with the discovery of the vaccine and steady immunizations that have begun globally signaling ‘the beginning of the end’.

COVID turned the world upside down and changed the way people not only live and work but the way they think and behave, some a bit more than others. A disaster of this scale forced people to adapt in terms of their education, employment, entertainment and recreation. We lost so many people, and yet the world didn’t stop. As Sun Tzu said “In the midst of Chaos, there is also opportunity.” We saw how COVID helped in bridging the gaps distance made as everyone turned to online facilitations in all aspects of their life. Telemedicine afforded many opportunities and provided a new lens through which healthcare can be achieved in a world living in the digital age. Although it is still in its primary stages, we can expect to see better results in the future.

COVID highlighted the need for the major upgrade in our health policies and interventions needed to achieve Universal Health Coverage. It has highlighted the importance of building strong healthcare systems that could both respond to emergencies and sustain affordable and accessible healthcare after the end of the outbreak. As the virus still continues to strain health systems around the world, the need of the hour is to revolutionize healthcare and make it a top priority that could not only help recover from the pandemic but also help achieve Universal Health Coverage, UHC, in the near future.

Did we learn something from the past year? Yes. Are we implementing it to the best of our abilities? The answer to this question is better off given by the individual. As I type this, I hear the news of ventilators at full capacity in my city and shortage of oxygen tanks across the border. I open my social media to see people ready to help. We learnt humanity. We learnt the value of a life. We hoped. And we will keep on hoping. Even though it cracks at the seams sometimes.

About the author

Aiman Nadeem is a third year medical student, currently completing her MBBS in Pakistan and a member of IFMSA-Pakistan since 2019. Aiman is a very quiet person but her words are just as loud. She has been very passionate about medicine ever since she once saw a ‘Doctors without Borders’ Ad on Television once. She wanted to become a doctor before that when she played Operation but she hated it. She enjoys rollerskating and cycling on the weekends when she’s not procrastinating on her assignments or playing bad guitar.

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