It was the end of 2019 when news first hit about a dangerous virus being spread across Wuhan in China. The City was shut down and the authorities did everything that they could to try and stop the spread. Alarm bells started ringing when cases were beginning to be detected around the world soon after. Nobody anticipated the devastation that was to come.

Fast forward a little over one year,  219 Countries and Territories around the world have reported a total of more than 92 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19. With the death toll due surpassing 2 million, the pandemic has truly devastated lives and economies throughout the world. Yet behind the scenes, health workers have been working diligently on the frontlines since the very first cases appeared.

In moments of uncertainty about our health and our futures, we thank all those people who are working on the frontlines, witnessing the pandemic in real time and putting their lives at risk to save others.

In particular, and more than ever before, healthcare professionals are facing increasing rates of infection and endure back-to-back overtime shifts as they work to detect, treat, and prevent COVID-19 infections and illness, as well as managing other diseases and chronic conditions. Sacrifices do come at a cost, and as health workers sacrifice their time and efforts in looking after the public, they suffer from physical and mental exhaustion.

In unprecedented times like now we must absolutely commend the unselfish work and sacrifice of frontline health professionals.

Stringent health systems and the COVID-19 Vaccination

It’s no secret that diseases do not discriminate! COVID-19 has certainly not spared wealthy regions, with the United Kingdom, United States, Italy and Spain being some of the hardest hit countries. Resilient and adaptive health systems are essential to ensure that hospitals and clinics can function not only during normal times, but also in times of health crises. We often think that health systems strengthening applies to low- or middle-income settings, but mass cases in both Italy and the U.S. have demonstrated that unprepared health systems have led to a lack of personal protective equipment, delays in diagnostic testing, and overwhelmed hospitals.

Still there is new hope! COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed in the millions and persistent social distancing partnered with a mass roll out of the vaccine will eventually take effect and bring back some sort of normality in the near future. Until then it is imperative that people listen to the advice provided by healthcare professionals.

Sacrifices made by healthcare professionals to help the communities

If we are to ever come out of this very tough period, Frontline health workers will have played a massive role in making that possible. Just as we are afraid of catching the virus, they too are just like us! They are afraid of getting infected, they are worried about the health of their loved ones and are uncertain of the long-lasting socioeconomic impacts of this pandemic. We are not out of the woods just yet! No doubt we will have to endure many more hard lessons along the way. If we want to look forward and rebuild our lives and our societies, we need to critically think about investing in resilient health systems and ensure that, should such an instance arise, that we are well prepared in the future. As individuals, we need to be aware of how public health threats affect our own health outcomes and our livelihoods.

Front line health staff, on a normal day, work hard to deliver quality healthcare. In these extraordinary times, they continue to dedicate themselves to treating diseases and alleviating suffering. Their contributions to you and our communities should not be ignored. Thank you to all of you who have kept us safe and to all those that continued to work through the pandemic to ensure that we have access to the services we need to survive.