This is a call no pilot or captain ever wants to make, it is an emergency call asking for help from the people on the ground when the plane has developed complications and requires emergency landing. The pilot is saying; help me help me!!
Having watched a lot of plane crash documentaries, the success of a plane crash is significantly determined by the support the pilot gets from the team on the ground; it could be a word of encouragement, guidance on where to land, how to restart the engines, which altitude to switch to etc. The team on the ground comprises of air traffic controllers, engineers, fire fighters, members of public etc, it is a team responsibility and not an individual. They all have a role to play and each activity is crucial and appreciated by the pilot.
We have a lot of mayday calls in our societies, hospitals coming from distressed palliative care patients. The voice is increasing with the high number of patients faced with life threatening conditions from both communicable and non communicable illnesses. Women, men and children are all affected and each one is asking for help. How are we responding to their cry, can we hear them calling us, how equipped are we to respond to their distress?
The mayday distress call starts when they notice something is wrong in their body; be it a swelling, a discharge or when we make a diagnosis, be it cancer, HIV/AIDS, Sickle cell, congenital anomalies etc. Just like the pilot making a distress call, our patients are making a call. They need our help, they have a lot of questions going through their mind;
Will I make it?
Who will help/guide me?
Am I going to die and how?
How about my family?
It is our responsibility to encourage them, guide them, and support them to ensure they land safely. It doesn`t matter if they are going to land on the runway, football field, highway, wheat field, ocean, all that matters is the outcome. How will they know where to land if we don’t guide them?
How prepared are we to handle them?
What`s our role as; Ministry of Health, counties, international partners, policy makers, local investors, communities, health care providers?
Are we going to watch them crash and share the pictures on social media or stand up and act?
It is an emergency call and the decision has to be made now, they are counting on us. We can’t afford to ignore them, our action will determine their landing outcome!!