Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will offer his services to the country's Health Service Executive for one session a week as a means to ease the burden on frontline health workers.
What the world needs right now are politicians who lead by example. While it is easy for United States President Donald Trump - and others like him - to speak about the great sacrifices of frontline health workers from the comforts of the White House, there is no doubt that battling it on the ground would be a difficult task for him. However, for Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is a call for action. Therefore, in addition to his role as a politician, he has decided to return to practice medicine, CNN reports.
Varadkar practiced as a doctor seven years ago before quitting medicine for politics. The Taoiseach, as the Prime Minister is known in Ireland, left the medical profession in 2013. A decade prior to that, he graduated from the School of Medicine at the prestigious Trinity College Dublin. He completed his internship at KEM Hospital in Mumbai, India. Varadkar then spent several years practicing as a junior doctor in St. James's Hospital and Connolly Hospital, following which he qualified to become a general practitioner in 2010. Now, he has rejoined Ireland's medical register and will pick up one shift a week to help frontline health workers during the global public health crisis.
The Prime Minister re-registered himself in March and has since offered his services in his area of expertise to the country's Health Service Executive for one session a week. He will be carrying out medical assessments via the phone in order to free up staff required for frontline work. The news was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Taoiseach. They stated, "Many of his family and friends are working in the health service. He wanted to help out even in a small way." Varadkar belongs to a family of doctors; he is the son of a nurse and a doctor. In addition to this, his husband Matthew Barrett is also a doctor.
An Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and Dr. Matthew Barrett greeted @VP Vice President of the United States Mr Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence at Farmleigh House. @VP Mike Pence then signed the visitor’s book and viewed Military Records of his grandfather Richard Cawley. pic.twitter.com/FnFkeyq1ML— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) September 3, 2019
Taoiseach Varadkar joins 70,000 other health professionals who have returned to medicine to ease the burden on the public health system as part of Ireland Health Minister Simon Harris' recruitment drive, the "Be on call for Ireland" initiative. Minister Harris urged "healthcare professionals from all disciplines who are not already working in the public health service" to re-register and "be on call" for their country. He also encouraged those who are currently studying medicine to volunteer their time during the outbreak.
At present, Ireland has close to 5,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Further to this, 158 people have already died of the disease. For over a week now, the European nation has been under a lockdown. Residents of Ireland are not permitted to travel over two kilometers from their homes. They have been urged to leave their households only when necessary, such as when they must purchase groceries and/or medicine, attend medical appointments, take care of family members, or engage in "brief" exercise. Like other countries across the world, Ireland is trying to "flatten the curve" by encouraging social distancing and self-isolation. Public and private gatherings amongst folks from separate households have been blocked entirely. Only those employed in essential services, such as health and social care workers, are permitted to travel to and from work. In the meantime, perhaps it would bode well for leaders of other countries to take a leaf from Varadkar's book and actively participate in the fight against the deadly COVID-19.
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