'They made the ultimate sacrifice': UAE honours the lives of 14 frontline heroes who died in nation's Covid-19 fight

The Frontline Heroes Office established in July 2020 is dedicated to the well-being of those on the front line and their families

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The UAE pledged support to the families of 14 frontline heroes who died during the nation's fight against Covid-19.

The Frontline Heroes office, established last July, is ensuring their "ultimate sacrifice" is not forgotten by caring for the loved ones they left behind.

The office has a database of about 100,000 key workers across the Emirates.

In an interview with The National, Dr Maha Barakat, director general of the Frontline Heroes Office, said the loss of even one frontline worker was too many.

"We have unfortunately lost 14 frontline heroes since the beginning the pandemic," said Dr Barakat, who also spoke at Monday's Mohamed bin Zayed Majlis.

No number is small and even one frontline worker who loses their life is too many

“There is no other way to put it. They are fallen heroes and they gave the ultimate sacrifice, which is to sacrifice their lives for others in the country.”

“No number is small and even one frontline worker who loses their life is too many.

"We are here to support their families as if they are still alive and more.”

The education, health and housing needs of their children are looked after by the office.

Dr Maha Barakat, director general of the Frontline Heroes Office. Reem Mohammed / The National
Dr Maha Barakat, director general of the Frontline Heroes Office. Reem Mohammed / The National

In November 2020 on Martyr's Day, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, personally called the families of fallen heroes who died while performing their duty on the front line of the Covid-19 battle.

Sheikh Mohamed expressed gratitude for the great role the fallen heroes played and the dedication they showed.

He said the Emirati community would never forget their sacrifices.

A frontline worker is anyone who contributed to the national response of dealing with Covid-19 during the pandemic, Dr Barakat said.

"You have clinical and non-clinical staff and volunteers in licensed healthcare facilities, and also people under the co-ordination of emergency and crisis management during the pandemic," she said.

The office supports the UAE’s frontline workers and their families through education scholarships, mental health programmes and training.

They are also offered top-ups to their health insurance plans and discounts at a variety of outlets.

The office is currently sponsoring more than 4,000 children in various public schools in the country.

Lezly is survived by her husband and young child, who are in the Philippines. Courtesy: Burjeel
Lezly is survived by her husband and young child, who are in the Philippines. Courtesy: Burjeel

Frontline staff across the world deserve support

Dr Barakat called for all nations to adequately compensate their frontline workers.

“When you see countries where some frontline workers are so poorly compensated, it doesn’t encourage people to join this sector," she said.

"We know that their work is critical for the public health programmes necessary to prevent and contain deadly disease. 
"So if you are not encouraging people to enter this profession then it could weaken the country."

UAE delivers international support 

The UAE supports many countries around the world by delivering vaccines and personal protection equipment to those struggling to deal with the pandemic.

To date, the UAE has provided more than 1,944 tonnes of medical aid to more than 135 countries, benefiting about 1.9 million medics.

In the UAE, more than 10 million vaccines have been administered so far to citizens and residents.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December, 1, 2020.  STORY BRIEF: Widow of a fallenfrontline worker, Dr. Muhammad Usman Khan. (L-R)
Alia Usman with her children, Mohanad, six and Akhdan, five at their home in Mohamed Bin Zayed City.  
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  National News
Reporter:  Sarwat Nasir
Alia Usman, widow of Muhammad Usman Khan, who died of Covid-19, with her sons Mohanad, 6, left, and Akhdan, 5. Victor Besa / The National

“The UAE is also playing a critical role to facilitate and accelerate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, and help combat the coronavirus pandemic," Dr Barakat said.

"With its logistics networks, storage capacity, and central geographic location, the UAE is well positioned to help ensure countries around the world have equitable access to vaccines against Covid-19.

"Julphar, in Ras Al Khaimah, is manufacturing two million doses per month of Hayat-Vax vaccine, and recently a joint venture was announced between G42 and Sinopharm to develop a vaccine manufacturing plant in Kizad capable of producing 200 million doses per year," she said.

"Helping the world getting vaccines to the poorest countries, you will find that the world will get through this pandemic and numbers will start disappearing. It is difficult to predict how long it will take but there will be requirements for several vaccinations."

On why the UAE is doing this, Dr Barakat said: "The problem will get much worse if we stop. There are overwhelming health, social and economic benefits to eradicating these debilitating and deadly communicable diseases.

"Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, just like his father, the late Sheikh Zayed, truly believes in the importance of humanitarian aid and leads by example."

The virtual Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan majlis, held each Monday during the holy month, is a series of talks to promote learning and reflection. It is broadcast on Emarat TV every Wednesday at 5:45pm, and available on YouTube afterwards.