By: Penélope Lara (Translated by Patricia Minski)
“Love is not as important as good health. You cannot be in love if you’re not
healthy. You don’t appreciate it.” — Bryan Cranston–
In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) commemorated April 7 as World Health Day. This day has been chosen in order to raise awareness about terminal diseases and to encourage healthy eating habits. We also use this day to reflect on the value of doctors and nurses who, during the pandemic, sacrificed their lives for those infected with COVID-19.
It has been a year since Ecuador and the rest of the countries of the world were hit unexpectedly by the coronavirus, that drastic change that affected millions of people, changed our way of thinking and left us from one minute to the next with “mass media communications” as our main way of communicating with one another.
When out of nowhere every day the only information that appeared on the news channels were simultaneous deaths everywhere, when out of nowhere we were reunited with our loved ones to then isolate ourselves for 5, 6, or 7 months, when out of nowhere we went out to entertainment centers and places outdoors to distract ourselves, it was at that moment when COVID-19 came to end the lives of our loved ones, newborn children, pregnant mothers, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, public officials, military and others.
At that moment we realized that life is ephemeral, that one day we are here and the next day we may not be, that health is the most important thing we own as human beings, that without it we are nobody, we are nothing. It was at that moment that we started changing our expectations and living each moment as if it were our last. This was engraved forever in our minds.
A round of applause is warranted for healthcare workers. No one decides to come to this world to watch over the health of others. No roadmap exists for providing the peace of mind so necessary for ensuring that others live long and healthy lives.
Life shocked us into realizing that those with greater economic opportunities did not have any advantages in this battle against what at first may have appeared to be a harmless virus but then became the terror of millions of people worldwide.
Unfortunately, the economic division still exists. There are those who do not have the health insurance necessary for immediate treatment and so must go to public facilities and wait endlessly to be seen by a doctor.
The WHO mentions that, due to the existence of inequality, some people are at lower risk of suffering from terminal disease due to their living conditions, the environment in which they grow up or the economic opportunities that they have. They indicated that the pandemic hit vulnerable sectors even harder, where disease and a lack of resources were already problematic.
We need to find ways in which to achieve equality of opportunity so that everyone has the same access to a dignified existence with good living conditions, unexposed to threats of emotional and other health problems. As the saying goes “liberty does not exist in an unequal world.”