Health-care workers deserve special considerationFriday, August 27, 2021
What was the Government's rationale to prioritise parliamentarians, members of the security forces, the elderly, front-line health-care workers and later, educators, to be first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines during the initial phases of vaccination?
Initially, there were just over 100,000 doses of vaccine for our population of 2.7 million. Was the decision to prioritise due to elitism, favouritism, preferential, or special treatment of a select minority when all are vulnerable to COVID-19? Or was it a strategic and prudent allocation of scarce resources after careful consideration of the means of transmission, risk factors, exposure, vulnerability, and the social significance of the designated groups in the national effort to contain viral spread and combat COVID-19?
The novel coronavirus pandemic is correctly compared to a war against invisible invaders. During wars, whether a State is governed by a monarchy, democracy, or dictatorship, the allocation of scarce resources, like food and medicine, have traditionally been, or at least in most instances, prioritised and allocated, first and foremost, to those who are deemed most important in society – the rulers or leaders and their families, (parliamentarians in the modern era), followed by combatants or soldiers on the front line defending the nation, then the general population.
The prioritisation of front-line combatants defending a nation, especially during real scarcity, to receive food or medical treatment when injured would never appear to any rational mind as unjustified because it is pure pragmatism. This tradition or standard practice is less about the front-line combatants and more about the survival of the nation. If the front-line defenders fail and fall then all will follow. I was, therefore, appalled at the Government's pronouncement that there would be no preferential access to treatment for front-line health-care workers.
Our front-line health-care workers are under attack defending the nation and putting their lives at risk because they are overexposed and overworked, operating under severely stressful situations.
Stress and fatigue definitely reduce resistance to all forms of infections, including the novel coronavirus, and facilitate accidents and ill-health. And the data have shown that since the onset of the pandemic a significant number of medical personnel has developed medical disorders or expereienced the worsening of existing ones.
The Government and people of Jamaica need to carefully consider whether it is in our best interest to deny special consideration or preferential access to treatment for front-line health-care workers. Many more will suffer and many more will definitely die, but the right decision will save countless lives.