EHS-COVID (481) Q3 What have we learned to better support health workers? (3) Lessons from the frontlines: Sri Lanka

27 November, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Are you a frontline health worker? WHO and HIFA would really like to hear from you here on the HIFA forum. What has been your experience during COVID-19? What changes need to be put in place to empower you for future waves of this pandemic, and for future pandemics (which may be even worse; see Greg Martin's latest global health video here: ).

Below is a testimony from a frontline junior docto in Sri Lanka:

CITATION: Lessons from the Frontlines: A Junior Doctor’s Experience of the First Wave of the COVID-19 Epidemic in a Resource-Limited Setting

September 17, 2021

Brabaharan Subhani (and Dilushi Wijayaratne)


'As a house officer involved on the front line of patient care, I (BS) had a front-row seat to the pandemic... There was palpable fear among health workers... None had received training in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)...'

'Sometimes I wonder if our patient care focused more on the safety of the public than on the welfare of the individual patient? Did we truly respect patient autonomy and the principle of justice in care?...'

'COVID-19 is taking a huge toll on the mental well-being of health care workers, more so as the condition continue to wax and wane. Understanding the empathetic distress experienced by the health staff and coping with it through compassion training is important for the well-being of both staff and patients. Formal psychosocial support needs to be made available to the staff.

'There is a need for major structural changes in the wards in our hospitals so that systemic adherence to infection control measures can be instituted...'

'Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,