Dr Sawsan Awad grew up in Damascus and Salamiyah, studied medicine at Damascus University, and worked in several educational hospitals in Syria. Now, as a consultant microbiologist and infection control doctor in the United Kingdom, Dr Sawsan Awad has been working on the frontlines of the pandemic since it began.

Dr Awad says she decided to study medicine for the same reason as many other healthcare workers: “I wanted to help people, people who were vulnerable and needed care and empathy.”

Since the pandemic started, she has helped in many ways: she has reviewed the infection control guidelines at her hospital, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, has provided reassurance to each ward, and ensured that local guidelines were followed. Her team also created guidelines for health professionals who continuously worried for their own health.

Right now, the challenges Dr Awad faces are similar to everyone else's. Some of her family members are still in Syria and in other parts of the world, but due to travel restrictions, she cannot see them. Enhancing the infection control in her own home is definitely a challenge. Like other health professionals and key workers, she worries about infecting family members after a day of work.

Additionally, her team is beginning to prepare for the influenza season, which is normally a demanding process, but even more so with the Covid-19 epidemic. Her team is creating contingency plans for another potential infectious epidemic due to the unprecedented nature of Covid-19.

Dr Awad is very proud to be using her skills to aid the Jamati Institutions. At the start of the epidemic in the United Kingdom, Dr Awad volunteered with the Aga Khan Health Board to create guidelines to protect the Jamat during Jamatkhana ceremonies. In the future, she hopes to create and sustain improved infection control guidelines within Jamatkhana. She has also started volunteering with the and Aga Khan Health Services to collaborate with hospitals in Afghanistan to modify their infection control guidelines to cover Covid-19.

She is thankful for those calling healthcare workers “the front line” of this battle, but says the term is not entirely accurate. Dr Awad points out that healthcare workers are in fact the last line of defence. 

“You, in the community, are on the front lines so thank you! Continue to social distance, look after yourselves and your immunities, and spread love and compassion, virtually.”