THE GLEANER, WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2021 | www.jamaica-gleaner.com | E5 WORLD FAMILY DOCTOR DAY FEATURE T HE COVID-19 pandemic has posed a substantive challenge to health systems globally and requires additional service delivery needs to adequately manage it. At the same time, global health systems need to preserve and enhance access to health services needed for care of other illnesses. Health workers are a central component of the pandemic response, while being among those most vulnerable to the COVID infection and to mental health issues due to their professional exposure. When medical staff levels are low, their interactions are associated with increased spread of COVID and risks of outbreaks in healthcare settings. The pandemic has impacted the availability and capacity of health workers to deliver essential services and meet surge needs! The challenges during COVID-19 have included: • A lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential equipment. • Infection and quarantine of medical staff. • Social discrimination and attacks against us. • A dual responsibility to care for friends and family members. COVID 19 has highlighted the need to address occupational health through adequate resourcing and the implementation of regular assessments and control of safety hazards. The challenges we experienced at the Apex Medical Centre in Kingston were many. We had to contend with the lack of availability of hand gloves, face masks, face shields, sanitisers, PPEs and head caps. We instituted temperature checks and a short questionnaire on arrival. The entry questionnaire included any travel history, contact with foreign visitors, recent history of a respiratory tract infection and use of medications, including over-the-counter medicines. Could this patient have COVID? If so, we had to decide how and where this patient could be examined. • An outside medical post was set for examination of suspected patients. • Unmasked patients were provided with masks. • Seating arrangements were arranged for social distancing, • Cleaning and sanitation were reorganised and reinforced. • Examination rooms were opened to provide better ventilation. There was anxiety, confusion and fear among staff and patients as the extent and implications of COVID infection were not yet known. Equally frightening was the possibility of infecting our family members! I was not used to wearing PPEs, despite being a family physician for over 32 years. The face shields were uncomfortable, opaque and misty when not adjusted properly! Responding to phone calls was equally uncomfortable as the phone piece and cord entangled with the broad face mask. Oh my God! When was this confusion going to be over? Patients were not allowed to use the bathroom for their usual urine pre-checks due to the possibility of contracting the infection in a closed space, and this caused disquiet, particularly among diabetic patients! Conclusion: The arrival of the COVID- 19 pandemic, though initially disturbing and destabilising our daily routines, has taught us better lessons regarding adherence to strict healthcare guidelines. Overcoming the pandemic will indicate our preparedness to face future similar or worse events! DRWILLIAM A. BROWN Family Physician and Past President of CCFP MY EARLY EXPERIENCE WITH COVID-19 Dr William Brown geared up and raring to attack the day. Dr Paul Cadogan/Veterinarian AN IMPORTANT feature of the One Heath concept is the relationship between the major medical professions encompassing human and animal health. Four years ago, the World Family Doctor Day (WFDD) planning committee invited the participation of Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association (JVMA) members in the annual WFDD conference, held in May, to bring a new and shared perspective to the interface between human and animal medicine. Since then, the Caribbean College of Family Physicians Jamaica Chapter (CCFP-J) and the JVMA have collaborated to hold annual One Health Conferences every November in observance of One Health Day. World Family Doctor Day (WFDD), too, has seen veterinarians and dentists sharing in the event as presenters at its annual conference. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a One Health issue, given the origin of the SARS CoV2 virus in animals, its emergence through human activities encroaching on wildlife ecosystems, the drugs that have been investigated for its treatment (such as remdesivir and Ivermectin) and their connection or origins in animal therapies, and the vaccine technologies being used, which have already proved their worth in animals. Concerns about the worrisome course that COVID- 19 has taken in Jamaica brought a group of physicians, dentists and veterinarians together to observe, discuss and comment on the situation in order to constructively help the national effort by providing public education through social media platforms. The group decided to call itself Doctors4ChangeJa. Team members, including family physicians, specialists in various medical disciplines, clinical veterinarians and dental surgeons, reached out to the public in the print and electronic media as well. Doctors4ChangeJa intends to continue its public engagement, to keep the message of prevention relevant, to promote vaccination compliance and to demonstrate the effects of the pandemic from the standpoint of health professionals. Under the auspices of the CCFP-J and the WFDD Committee, the group has been fortunate to garner the support of the National Health Fund for its social media outreach activities. A number of short video clips featuring the doctors delivering various messages will be produced. Some Doctors4ChangeJa teammembers have never met in person – getting to know and learning from each other via their WhatsApp group. They have shared laughter and outrage, sadness and hope, looking forward to the day that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a thing of the past. The group hopes that its efforts will contribute, even in a small way, to hastening the arrival of that day. Dr Paul Cadogan is a veterinarian, an executive member of the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association, a founding member of the One Health Day Conference Committee and a member of Doctors4ChangeJa. Social media outreach in the COVID-19 pandemic Doctors4ChangeJa intends to continue its public engagement, to keep the message of prevention relevant, to promote vaccination compliance and to demonstrate the effects of the pandemic from the standpoint of health professionals.