I have always wondered how the difficult lives of people in conflict zones and refugee camps are exacerbated by problems that you and I fix by a visit to the doctor, or increasingly these days, a telemedicine consultation.
The Israel-Gaza crisis resulted in the cancellation of ‘non-essential’ surgeries as scarce medical resources were redirected to trauma care. But think – that painful abcess or heel spur may seem non-essential to others but causes you so much discomfort.
Similarly, ‘routine miracles’ like childbirth can become fraught with risk in such situations.
The coronavirus pandemic that has us in its vice-like second-wave right now is also one such conflict zone.
Like a spoilt child who smashes the cake and gobbles up the major portion, the pandemic has seen countries desperately throwing most of their health budget into fighting this invisible enemy and in the process, the more conventional and equally deadly health hazards are taking a backseat.
For example, even as we all scramble to meet vaccination numbers, as many as 117 million children worldwide could miss out on measles vaccinations because immunisation campaigns are suspended to curb the spread of the virus.
They say that 2020 figures could reveal as many as 225m additional malaria cases across sub-Saharan Africa because of the suspension of distribution campaigns for insecticide-treated nets and disruption to malaria treatment.
And yet, we are faced with no choice but to push the grim battle against the Covid-19 virus despite the disruption of key health services, simply so that we can live to fight another day with better understanding of how to defeat the virus.
In a telling comment last Thursday, the experts who outlined the new and stricter actions required to flatten the curve of infection, warned that each one of us is responsible for taking the fight forward.
Balancing the direct response to Covid-19 with the need for continued delivery of other health services is a universal dilemma for policymakers.
Bahrain has shown remarkable flexibility, effectiveness and a state of continuous preparedness in its pandemic fight and at the same time, not let its sights slip from the whole spectrum of health services delivery. On the ground, there is a universal sense of trust in the kingdom’s healthcare delivery.
I know of domestic workers who prefer to scrape together three months’ salary and have surgeries here and of senior execs who choose to carry out complicated, life-saving procedures here because they all believe that Bahrain has the sophisticated ability to delivery successful and safe healthcare.
We pay lip-service to the difficulties that life in the eye of the pandemic storm has thrust upon us but how quickly we have become immured to the sight of little children playing with their masks on and of youngsters struggling with a WFH school schedule.
We have lost loved ones and icons who help define our humanity with their intellectual and humanitarian contribution. Let us remember that whole future generations will be affected by what happens today – the teenagers who are locked out of colleges and universities for now, the children whose social perceptions and cultural identity are being re-shaped by these strange times.
You and I walk through this maze, unaware that we hold the key (should I say mask?) in our hand to control this virus – and the sooner we do it, the better are our chances of survival as a race.