COVID-19: Over 80,000 frontline workers protect UAE residents amid pandemic

Frontline Heroes Office has created database of all its workers, with aim to support them during COVID-19

Abu Dhabi: More than 80,000 professionals and volunteers have been actively protecting the UAE and its residents during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Frontline Heroes Office announced on Monday.

The Frontline Heroes Office has drawn up a national database of these workers and said the compilation of this registry is a significant milestone in an initiative to care for and champion those who served the people of the UAE.

The registry collated data from people at the frontline, provided directly by entities at the federal and emirate level involved in the response to the pandemic, including those entities under the umbrella of the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), as well as within licensed health-care facilities in every emirate. It covers the full spectrum of Emirati and expatriate residents who have put themselves on the frontlines, including health-care practitioners, police personnel, essential service providers, crisis managers, security and emergency service providers, humanitarian agencies, sterilisation personnel and volunteers.

Listen and respond

The Frontline Heroes Office was established in July 2020 by a decree from President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and is under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The Frontline Heroes Office is mandated to listen and respond during this COVID-19, to the challenges and priorities of the UAE’s frontline professionals, to implement short-term and long-term solutions to directly address their needs, as well as ensure those who sacrifice and put themselves at risk to protect the lives of others in the UAE are nationally recognised and celebrated. The Frontline Heroes Office will deliver on its mandate through partnerships and collaborations with government entities, private sector and the wider community across the UAE through a wide range of initiatives and special programmes that directly support frontline heroes.

Strong and comprehensive network

Dr Maha Barakat, director general at the Frontline Heroes Office, said that while the office was established in direct response to the global pandemic, it is a permanent federal entity mandated to ensure the UAE maintains a strong and comprehensive network of frontline professionals to respond to any future crisis or emergency that may pose a challenge to the nation and its people.

“We must always be prepared to immediately and effectively respond to any crisis or emergency we face today and anytime in the future for the protection of our people and our society. To help our nation maintain a frontline workforce ready and able to take on the sacrifices and risks we ask, we owe it to them to ensure they are appropriately recognised and supported by our government and our people. Our first task has been to directly engage with and listen to our frontline heroes to truly understand what matters most to them,” she said.

Pandemic-related pressures

To drive the development of its support and recognition programmes, the Frontline Heroes Office surveyed nearly 8,000 frontline professionals working in health-care facilities across the UAE, as well as those working in entities under the NCEMA umbrella. The national survey was structured to directly engage the UAE’s frontline heroes to hear from them the challenges and stresses they face that the office could help address.

Overall job satisfaction among UAE health-care frontline professionals was found to be high and 85 per cent of those surveyed reported that they were satisfied with their jobs despite pandemic-related pressures. When asked about quality of facility, infrastructure and availability of adequate resources to manage the current situation, 86 per cent of the respondents stated they were satisfied.

Also significant is how the UAE’s frontline health-care professionals overwhelmingly approve of the government’s handling of the outbreak. Nearly 95 per cent of those surveyed support the coordinated national pandemic response, far greater than reports coming from other countries worldwide.

However, a few challenges were identified in the research findings, which the Frontline Heroes Office will work to address through its support programme. The five key areas of challeges include recognition and appreciation, overall health and wellbeing, job satisfaction, cost of living, and long-term job retention.

“Our frontline heroes are genuinely committed to and believe in the ‘united together’ mantra of our nation’s leaders as the key to successfully overcoming this pandemic.

‘Incredibly talented’

“At the same time, we need to always work to better understand and respond to the pain points and challenges our frontline heroes face. We want to create an environment where these incredibly talented and committed frontline heroes receive the kind of support and recognition that makes them want to continue to build their careers and raise their families here in the UAE,” Dr. Barakat said.

The Frontline Heroes Office will begin announcing and rolling out its support programmes in the coming weeks. This will include support and services provided to frontliners across the UAE, including initiatives targeted at addressing specific needs and support families.

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