At critical times such as these, we all have a responsibility to become heroes. Some have heroism forced upon them, while others accept it unconsciously and without hesitation. In today’s Kuwait, as in every country around the globe, a silent army of doctors and nurses has geared itself up for the battle against the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. In Asia, Europe and North America, healthcare workers are too often ill-equipped to control the virus. In Kuwait, thanks to the swift and brave actions from the country’s leaders, our hospitals and staff are well prepared to face the challenges that lay ahead.

However, risks remain high – particularly to healthcare workers. While the majority of Kuwait’s citizens are locked away at home in varying degrees of isolation, the nation’s healthcare workers are on the frontline… daily.

For Dr. Hussain Ali Al Tarrah, a surgeon at Kuwait’s public Al Amiri Hospital, and for all the Kuwait’s doctors and nurses, the risks are frighteningly real; but turning their backs on society at a time like this is unthinkable.

Dr. Hussain Ali Al Tarrah

“There has never been a time like this”, he reflects. “Healthcare workers are on constant alert. The only way to manage the risks is by treating everyone as potentially infected, and even to regard ourselves as being so. This way, the highest standards of transmission prevention are maintained”.

A recent incident – where emergency surgery was carried out on a COVID-19-infected citizen at Al Amiri – highlighted the dangers. At the end of the procedure the medical team was kept in isolation and tested for the virus. Thankfully, all tests of healthcare workers came back negative, and the patient’s operation was a success.

Nonetheless, it served as a real-world reminder. “At the end of every day I go home to my children – an 8-year-old and a 13-year-old. For the first time in their lives I have to distance myself from them”, Hussain shakes his head. “This is hard on us all”.

As a surgeon and a father, Dr. Hussain Ali Al Tarrah has been at the forefront of campaigns to ensure the message of virus awareness spreads faster than the virus itself. View his video here.

Hussain is highly complimentary of the speed with which Kuwait moved to stem the spread of the virus, and of the resources that have been laid at the disposal of the healthcare sector in caring for those affected by the virus.

Mishref’s International Exhibition Centre has been transformed into a reception area checking suspected cases of COVID-19.

“All our hospitals are now fully prepared to accept COVID-19 patients”, he told me. “The Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Hospital”, whose quality has been compared by some to the finest of five-star resorts, “has been assigned as the main quarantine center, and is ready to be fully occupied by virus-infected and virus-suspected patients under maximum security and medical care”.

So far, the Mishref center has tested more than 30,000 people.

“In each of Kuwait’s hospitals, all doctors are trained on ventilator procedures and ready to deal with COVID-19 patients, and all staff are trained on the right way to deal with COVID-19 patients”.

Even Kuwait International Airport has a dedicated and secure reception area for citizens arriving home.

Non-urgent surgery has been postponed nationwide, and every available bed is kept empty – ready to deal with emergency surgery, trauma, and – of course – virus patients. The battle continues.

COVID-19 team at Al Khiran – fully equipped to deal with the crisis

For Dr. Hussain, the key to defeating the virus now lies in the hands of this society. “It is critically important that everyone treats the crisis with the importance it deserves”, he says. “The government and the healthcare sector is playing its part, but this will only work if people learn to think the way we do by treating everyone as potentially infected, and even to regard themselves as being so, and by staying home and following instructions regarding prevention and treatment”.

It’s time for every citizen to become their own hero, and join the nation’s brave healthcare workers in the war on COVID-19.

 

Today, this is what real heroes look like.