Dubai: Last week’s announcement by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to award 10-year visas to 212 doctors who had risked their lives to treat coronavirus patients in the emirate has sent out a thrill of gratitude across the medical community.
One of those awarded, Dr Paul Businge, 67, a consultant Radiologist at Rashid Hospital, told Gulf News, “It’s incredible, am delighted beyond words, my heart fills up with pride that my hard work, dedication and efforts have been recognised.”
The Swedish national moved to the UAE from Gothenburg five years ago, while his wife and four daughters live between Sweden and the UAE.
“My wife Jenny is a banker in Sweden, my eldest daughter Nina, is employed, second daughter Julia is in university and my twin daughters Anne and Ellen have just graduated from high school. All of them are so excited with this news, as it will mean they can spend more time with me in Dubai,” he added.
Radiology is at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle with lung X-rays being crucial to pointing out the severity of the condition, and Dr Businge dons Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to stay safe while screening patients.
“Although I am in charge of screening of the lower part of the anatomy, we all have to don the PPE and work together as a team,” he said. “This visa will mean I will be able to dedicate more time towards serving my profession,” he added. “In Sweden I would have retired, but this visa has given me a new lease of life. I am perfectly healthy and have so much more to give to my profession. It has provided me with a renewed enthusiasm to give my best to my profession. The UAE has been magnanimous to recognise the work of health care professionals.” he said.
Dr Erum Rehman, a specialist in Infectious Diseases at Rashid Hospital has been clocking in 12 hours of work a day with complete dedication for the last four months.
“Being a clinical expert in infectious diseases, ever since the pandemic began, our department has been at the forefront of this battle,” said the mother of three from Karachi, Pakistan.
Relentless and spirited, every morning she has been donning PPE and putting her heart and soul into attending to score of patients.
“This has been my routine for the last few months and there has been no letting off,” she said. “Yes, like others, fear does cross my mind because fear is a human emotion, my children who read so much about COVID 19, often feel fearful for me. But the DHA has provided us with such excellent PPE, trained us with set guidelines and protocols, that we are able to set aside our fears and focus on the job at hand,” she added.
Not really expecting a reward for her dedication, Dr Rehman said: “My job was my reward, I was not really expecting anything in return. This is my job. To me, seeing a very sick patient, come in, get the right treatment and have their result turn negative, has been the greatest reward. Seeing the absolute delight and relief on a patient’s face is priceless and despite all the long hours we put in, these results make it worth the while,” she added. “I wasn’t expecting this but when the HR department called and asked for my passport, I was pleasantly surprised, seeing the visa stamped on my passport has absolutely filled me with gratitude and pride. I cannot think of any country which has acknowledged the dedication of health care workers with such a big honour. My children and my husband and all my relatives in Pakistan are thrilled. Dubai has been my second home for the last 10 years and now with this 10-year visa my commitment and dedication to my job is stronger than before.”
In the last few months, Dr Abdul Rahman Cheenammadath, a specialist paediatrician at Latifa Hospital, has been posted at a quarantine hotel.
“There were some paediatric COVID-19 patients, but my work was not restricted to attending to those,” he said. “I was attending to all patients. Donning the PPE and putting in long hours of work at the centre,” added Cheenamadath, who said he was well looked after by his department.
“The head of my department, Dr Fatima Mohammad Al Jassim would call me often, asking me about how I was doing and enquiring about my health. I was touched by her concern for a team-member and it raised my morale,” added the father of four.
All of his family is here in the UAE with him except for his eldest son Nihal, 22, who is enrolled in a medical college. His two younger children, Ahmed Zain, 17, Haya Fatima, 15, and four-month-old daughter Haleema, are all with him in Dubai.
The 50-year-old from Kasargod, Kerala, spent 17 years in Dubai and did not expect the honour.
“It was such a pleasant surprise to receive this honour and I am indebted to His Highness Sheikh Mohmmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the DHA head Humaid Qutami, Younis Kazim, CEO of Dubai Healthcare Corporation and Latifa Hospital CEO, Dr Muna Al Tahlak for having conferred this upon me.
“I thought 10-year visas were meant for wealthy investors, but when I saw my passport stamped with it, I just could not believe my eyes. The UAE is one of the few countries to recognise and acknowledge the work of health care professionals and I am truly humbled,” he added.
Dr Shaikh Sayeed Iqbal, a specialist radiologist from Rashid Hospital, who is stationed in the Trauma centre, has spent long hours screening X-rays of COVID-19 patients and also conducting ultrasounds, almost round the clock.
“Since X-rays are an important tool in diagnosing the severity of the disease, yes I have had a busy time,” he said. “Screening reports are not just for patients at Rashid Hospital, but also at field hospitals, like the one at Dubai World Trade Centre. Those reports are shared on the server,” he added.
When he was called by HR and informed of his visa, he couldn’t believe his ears.
“I am full of gratitude to the almighty for providing such a unique honour during Ramadan,” he said. “I am very grateful that the rulers of this country have decided to acknowledge our silent yet relentless efforts to battle this pandemic. It is a great gesture and my family is thrilled with this,” added Dr Iqbal, who has been in his role for 16 years.