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Women in Turkey mark their day amid fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Women in Turkey mark their day amid fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Turkey’s health care army remains the nameless and mostly invisible heroes of the struggle against the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Indeed, they are barely recognizable in head-to-toe protective personal equipment (PPE) and masks they have to wear. As the world marks International Women’s Day, female health care workers find the recognition they deserve and express pride in helping the country in this daunting task. Be it attending to patients at hospitals, tracking down positive patients by going door to door, or walking on snow-covered roads to reach villages for inoculation, their work is vital.

Nurse Halise Akay has seen the worst side of the pandemic. She was infected with the virus and witnessed hundreds of patients succumbing to the disease or fighting back against the pain it inflicted. Akay works at Istanbul’s Sancaktepe Şehit Prof. Ilhan Varank Training and Research Hospital, which has been among the busiest catering to COVID-19 patients since the first cases were reported last year.

Akay was infected last April and found herself on one of the beds on which she had attended to her patients. “It was very difficult,” she recounts the five days of her painful battle against the disease. “I was alone in the room with no visitors. But I am glad to recover from it without infecting my family,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) Monday. Akay now works in the vaccination unit of the hospital.

The veteran nurse says she feels bad especially for elderly patients who suffer from the disease worse than others. “They can’t do anything on their own. You have to be there for them all the time. I am a professional but sometimes, emotions get the better of you and you feel like your own father or mother can be there one day,” she says. Being a woman in this process is an advantage, according to Akay. “We have this inherent instinct to fight. Certainly, you can get emotional at times but women are better than men in terms of thinking about more than one aspect of anything,” she says.