AFC hails medical heroes in special #BreakTheChain episode

Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) today pays special tribute to the AFC doctors and medical practitioners who continue to risk their lives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in this latest #BreakTheChain series. 

More than 100 Asian icons have joined the public awareness campaign and today, the spotlight shifts to the true heroes - battling bravely and selflessly in the front lines to ensure that their communities and loved ones remain protected and safe.

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The latest #BreakTheChain video comes after the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa praised the outstanding contributions of the frontline health professionals, carers and responders.

The AFC President said: “In these uncertain times, we look to our health professionals more than ever and I am so proud at the way so many health workers, doctors, and medical personnel as well as first responders have selflessly put aside concerns for their own well-being to save the lives of others.

“In football, we are used to seeing words such as heroes or stars, but at this time the real heroes and stars are those who have worked so tirelessly to save and heal their communities and to protect their countries. These are the real-life heroes and deserve our gratitude.”

AFC Medical Officer and CEO of the FIFA/AFC Medical Centre of Excellence, Dr. Zohreh Haratian, who works at the Iran Mall Sports Medicine Centre which was converted into a field hospital equipped with 3,000 beds, helped patients affected by the coronavirus even after her own father was tested positive.

“I couldn’t visit my father but kept in touch with him through technology. I, myself, suffered from symptoms and was quarantined but was immediately back in action when my test results returned negative.

“My colleagues and I did our best to help fight back against the virus while also creating a campaign titled #football 1_0 Corona. Together with reputed professional footballers we advised people to take care of their health and informed them of how important it is to stay at home.

“We the medical team‏ are working together like a football team doing our best to win the fight against COVID-19. Everyone around the world are cheering and praying and crossing their fingers for us to win. We shouldn't let them down,” she said.

Meanwhile, AFC Medical and Doping Control Officer, Dr. Arya Roy from India, who works at the Bhattacharyya Orthopaedics and related research centre, advised the public to adhere to the regulations put in place by Governments.

“The biggest challenge that we face is lack of knowledge about our enemy. India is a country of multiple cultures with a huge population and it is difficult for people to understand the situation. Everyone must adhere to the advice from the Government and stay home to break the chain until the battle is won,” said Dr. Roy.

Dr. Bernadett Velasco of the Philippines, an AFC Medical Officer, admits that her responsibility at the triage as well as testing and treating patients, take precedence over the challenges she faces in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the East Avenue Medical Centre and Capitol Medical Centre in Quezon City.

“There are a lot of obstacles, but everyone is working together to fight this. We cannot do it alone and this is not only a problem for the healthcare workers. That’s why it is important for the public to stay at home. And for those who have COVID-19 symptoms, please call the emergency numbers for advice. You need to know where to go as only designated hospitals can receive patients under investigation or positive COVID-19 cases. This can also help reduce the spread of the virus."

AFC Medical Officer and Member of the AFC Medical Committee Col. Dr Reema Alhosani, who is the Head of Medical Services Abu Dhabi Police, remains in the front line to screen people for the COVID-19 and she shares her experience of battling the pandemic.

“When we are in the personal protective equipment, we cannot breathe normally and sometimes you feel tightness, and this develops a headache. It is not easy and not comfortable at all and being a mother, I need to take care of my children. I have to take extra precautions to protect them and myself,” she said.

“People should listen to our health sector. You need to help us to stay at home, keep social distancing and practice personal hygiene. People do not realise the size of the problem. Please support us and your Governments. The world is experiencing a difficult time, please don’t make it any worse. Help us to break the chain and stop the spread of the COVID-19.”

Professor Yung Shu Hang, Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), believes footballers can help amplify public awareness and the World Health Organization regulations.

“We have educated footballers, the football community as well as the public on COVID-19 through online education. It is important for people to understand why it is so important to stay at home and to regularly wash their hands. The behaviours of footballers have a big impact on the community and it is nice to see so many joining the AFC’s #BreakTheChain campaign to spread awareness,” said the AFC Medical & Anti-Doping Officer.

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