Dear Medical Social Workers,
I am writing with a special message of support and encouragement to you all in these challenging times. It is not more news that COVID-19 is confronting the global community with extraordinary challenges and opportunities, transforming our lives as we knew them and overwhelming our healthcare systems. The virus poses serious risks to our patients and their families, other vulnerable populations, and healthcare providers everywhere, exposing the global unmet need for psychosocial support services.
Distinguished colleagues, the task before us as Medical Social Workers in Nigerian hospitals is serving as frontline workers conducting contact tracing, conducting home visiting which is to ensure that people who have been identified as being in contact with the index patient are self-isolating as directed by Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC). Medical Social Workers has being providing psychological first-aid to patients and their family members who are experiencing high levels of anxiety, fear, paranoia and despair arising from multiple reasons i.e. fear of infection, financial insecurity, job security and loneliness may occur due to the extended periods of self-isolation and lockdown of the country. As Medical Social Workers, we must ensure that rights of patients and their expectations are paramount, protected and addressed as the health system adapts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Organizing communities to ensure that essentials such as food and clean water are available and facilitating physical distancing and social solidarity.
As we help people in our communities, we need to heed the best scientific information. As critical thinkers, we need to search out the best available information as we work to support the people we serve and our communities. There are many reliable resources beginning with our local public health agencies, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Federal Ministry of Health, WHO and other relevant agencies.
The Association of Medical Social Workers of Nigeria (AMSWON) is here to help you. I would like to hear what you are doing in your community to support the efforts to reduce the impact and spread of the virus. Take care and be safe.
It is our sincere prayer that this epidemic will be over very soon.
Yours in service to Humanity,
ALHAJI ABUBAKAR ALHASSAN BICHI
National President, Association of Medical Social Workers of Nigeria (AMSWON)
27th March, 2020