Coronavirus: Are our brave frontline personnel becoming sacrificial lambs?

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Photograph by Tumisu/Pixabay

The government should treat any lack of supplies and personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare personnel as an emergency, J Jeyasingam says. 

“Appeal for contributions to buy gloves and masks for doctors and nurses. Funds needed for PPE suits for medical staff. Donations urgently needed to buy protective gear for medical front-liners in hospitals.”

The public is being inundated with similar appeals from different sources and in various forms. These appeals tug at our heart strings, driving even the steeliest of persons into an emotional tangle. This is especially so when we the public are all invested in the fight against the single largest threat that we have met in our lifetimes, namely the coronavirus, which has abruptly altering our lifestyles and routines for what seems an interminable length of time.

The prospect of a permanent change in the way we live our lives from now on also looms large for many of us, although it may not be immediately apparent.  As the days pass, dismal prognoses, based on various scenario analyses of potential economic disaster, keep circulating and gathering steam, threatening to affect our livelihoods.

Despite it all, we reach into our pockets to contribute. After all, aren’t these brave frontline personnel in the line of fire risking everything for us? It could very well be our kith and kin they are fighting to save; our fathers, our mothers, our grandparents and, heaven forbid, our children?

And then the ball drops. The contributions and donations requested are meant for doctors, nurses and other frontline staff in public hospitals. What the Dickens is going on? Public hospitals, you say? Why isn’t the government giving this vital link in treating Covid-19 the highest priority, and why isn’t it channelling even more resources into the procurement and timely delivery of these medical supplies to frontline personnel when these supplies are readily available? 

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It is no accident that the term “front line” is being used, as it is a military term referring to “the field of operations in contact with the enemy”. Make no mistake, we are at war with an unseen enemy which is inflicting heavy casualties worldwide, and we are certainly not spared.

In any war, the ranking generals of the army dictate battle strategy. In a non-combat situation – but one where civilian lives are at stake – the government is responsible for this. We cannot and must not slack in our duty to support the front lines through the timely provision of medical supplies as needed.

Failure to do so would be an abrogation of responsibility by citizens, represented by the government of the day. Economic stimulus packages, fiscal aid, supplementary budgets and the like are all well and good and welcomed by the intended recipients.

The recent economic stimulus package of “RM250bn” to stem the tide and mitigate against the effects of the coronavirus revealed a RM600m allocation to the Ministry of Health. Why isn’t this financial muscle being flexed and vital supplies delivered quickly?

Red tape and bureaucracy are surefire ways of losing a battle and possibly the war. Dispense with them, it and treat this as an emergency, which is exactly what the present situation is. Disburse the funds and get the supplies to the front line now! Let not corruption or patronage be a hindrance, if indeed that is the case.

Time is of the essence. If our frontline personnel become casualties, or worse, fatalities, disaster will befall all of us. 

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“You may delay, but time will not” – Benjamin Franklin 

J Jeyasingam is a stockbroker by profession – but these days mostly just taking stock of where we are going as a people in this beloved nation of ours. With a wife and a son to remind him that no person is an island, he believes we must all stand shoulder to shoulder as a nation and rise to every challenge 

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