The webinar highlighted just how tough it has been for the frontline health workers in the low-resource countries where we work. We are so lucky to have a strong health system in the UK. We heard from Somaliland and Sierra Leone, where patients and health workers alike are scared to come to hospitals and clinics because they don’t feel safe. We heard about the stigma that has left health workers isolated, rejected by their families and communities. We heard about the material challenges also – the lack of supplies, PPE, equipment, oxygen – and the debilitating impact of the virus on other health services, with terrible consequences for the many patients who are sick with diseases such as Malaria, TB and HIV, or who are in need of surgery.
What makes me most proud to be part of KGHP’s work is that the foundation of all our work is partnership with local institutions. When I worked at Oxfam, the humanitarian staff would talk about a ‘step aside’ process, which would happen in response to an acute crisis. This ‘step aside’ meant that the local office moved out of the way so that a team of international responders could come in. The driver behind this decision was speed, which is critical especially in a natural disaster where every minute counts. But colleagues acknowledged that with this came trade-offs. Often valuable knowledge of communities, culture and existing relationships were sacrificed.