During the pandemic, mental and emotional health is brought very much into the light. Frontline workers, especially the medical staff, are no exception to the struggle. Throughout my MSF journey, I have visited the front lines several times to learn about humanitarian aid projects. These invaluable experiences allowed me to witness the professionalism of frontline aid workers and have a more thorough understanding of the stress and dilemmas that they endure.
These stories of struggling between two poor choices to save lives are not new or specific to COVID-19. However, the pandemic added complications, especially at the beginning due to the uncertainty of the unknown.There were extreme cases of a global scarcity of medical supplies and at the same time the admission of multiple very severe or critical COVID-19 patients, where medical staff had confronted moral dilemmas and had to deal with imperfect decisions. Negative emotions and distress then built up bit by bit over time and led to mental health problems.
MSF recently invited some field workers from around the world to share what they saw and their own experiences during the pandemic. We especially selected some of these stories to be featured in this issue of “Borderline”, and added an interview with a local doctor who had assisted us in responding to the fifth wave of COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong. Through their testimonies, I hope next time we visit our doctor or meet nurses, we remember that they, too, have their vulnerable moments during COVID-19. The silent wounds they carry during such difficult and uncertain times should be recognised and addressed, and it takes time and the right help to truly heal.
In this issue of Borderline, we are introducing a column about people behind MSF – donors and supporters – who made our work possible around the world. You can read the stories from legacy donors of “A Gift for Tomorrow" programme. I hope their sharing will motivate you to continue supporting us to save lives.
Executive Director, MSF Hong Kong