Editor’s Comment: Appreciating lessons learnt.

The fact that as many as 462 staff members and frontliners from the Health Ministry received mental health screening and psychosocial support at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is something we should take note of.

We learn that local counselling and social services NGO Empower Pacific provided this service during the pandemic.

Exposure to daily stressors, it said, may have led to negative mental health conditions of Fijian health care workers. This is in its 2021 annual report.

The report noted that it was clear that working in a healthcare facility during the pandemic was very stressful for health care workers who provided care for patients and quarantined guests.

Bundled with high risks of being infected, the report noted that their self-care was gravely compromised and Empower Pacific provided counselling support to frontline workers so health workers could adopt a positive mindset and be able to manage their well-being while they continued to provide for their patients and their own families. Tele-counselling was provided to the Health Ministry’s staff, COVID-19 patients and people in quarantine centres. The report said 964 individuals in quarantine and home isolation were also provided mental health and wellness screening.

“Staff offered tele-counselling support to help quarantine guests adapt to the quarantine setting and helped them feel relaxed. Psycho-education was additionally provided to staff and guests about mental health and COVID stigma.”

As we near another festive season, we are buoyed by the fact that the pandemic has taught us many lessons.

We can never escape the negative impact it had on our lives, and how it has changed the dynamics, and brought in a new normal.

We have to reflect on the events of 2020 and last year to remind ourselves about the importance of appreciating lessons learnt.

Together we must be enthusiastic about what must be done because we had lessons that taught us the importance of understanding and appreciating the pandemic, and how it actually changed the world.

It is incumbent on us to act now.

We have an obligation to learn from the lessons, and appreciate the issues that popped up at the height of the pandemic.

With borders closed, the scenarios very quickly deteriorated for thousands of workers.

Then there was the issue of confinement and how people adapted to that. The containment zones meant people were caged in areas and weren’t able to travel far. Health workers were at the mercy of a virus that was unseen and spread like wildfire around the world.

With little known about it through 2020 and for a better part of 2021, you couldn’t shrug aside the sense of fear, uncertainty and insecurity.

That would have been something that our frontliners carried with them for most of the two years.

That alone can be scary, especially when you are dealing with an unseen enemy, and at that time, not much was known about the virus. Then there was the way the virus mutated and killed people around the world.

As the number of people who died rose, borders closed and airlines were forced to stop operations everywhere.

This is the backdrop our frontliners worked under.

Moving forward, we have a base to start from in the event of a similar event in the future. We live and we learn! Stay well and stay safe wherever you are today!

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