Frontline health workers — the nurses, doctors, midwives and community health workers who ensure that families around the world receive the care they need — form the backbone of our global health system. It is because of their diligence and willingness to stay up all night, travel any distance, and brave dangerous situations that people in even the most remote communities can have access to quality health care. Through the UNICEF and Johnson & Johnson partnership, we are focused on ensuring that frontline health workers have the training, tools, and support they need to succeed. Our investment in them is an investment in everyone’s future.
During this year’s Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF (TOT is the longest-running youth engagement campaign in America and has raised millions of dollars for children around the world), we invited kids from across the U.S. to learn more about the important role of frontline health workers and to share questions about how health workers keep our communities safe and healthy. Excitingly, questions flooded in from across the country to UNICEF experts!
We picked ten of our favorite questions and asked Dr. Ralf Moreno Garcia, a health specialist who responds to global health emergencies at UNICEF, to share his answers.
How would you describe your job in three words?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: Inspiring, rewarding, and helpful.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: Going to communities in different countries, talking to people, and learning about their lives, cultures and figuring out how to help them.
What inspires you to help others?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: Empathy. I know how it feels to experience pain and to be in need, so I want others to be in a better situation as much as I can.
What is the happiest thing that you’ve witnessed at work during the pandemic?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: The desire of many people across the world to share information and work together to find solutions to the pandemic.
How do you handle stress during difficult medical situations?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: I resort to different methods. Meditation has helped me a lot. Any spiritual practice that you may have will help. Also, having the support of your friends and family is very helpful. Understanding that as human beings, we all experience good and bad moments. Also, swimming relaxes me and it is good for your health.
What made you go into this line of work?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: It is rewarding but it is also hard and painful at times.
Why did you choose this specifically?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: I started working as a doctor for two reasons: 1) I loved science as a kid (I still do), with a particular interest in biology; and 2) Helping others is one of the most rewarding actions one can do, and gives a sense of purpose in life.
How can we better support health care workers?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: You can support health care workers in many ways. As a kid, listen to your parents’ advice — for example, eat your vegetables, be careful when you cross the street, etc. By doing so, you will avoid dangerous and risky situations, you will be healthy, and you will make all of us (health care workers) happy because you remain healthy. When you go to the doctor or any other health care worker, listen to their advice too.
Do you have an idol? Who is someone you really admire?
DR RALF MORENO GARCIA: I have several idols, including Carl Sagan, one of the most famous scientists and astronomers; Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov, famous science-fiction writers; and Marie Curie, probably one of the most brilliant scientists, and one of the few people to have won two Nobel Prizes.
What’s one piece of advice that would you give to future health care workers?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: Treat each patient as if it were your mother, father, sibling or child.
What do you hope for our world and our community?
DR. RALF MORENO GARCIA: I hope all of us try to understand one another, trying to imagine how it is to be someone else, and how we would behave if we were in their situation. By doing so, we would be more compassionate, kinder and understanding of our differences.
We hope you learned a lot more about the lives of health workers at UNICEF thanks to Dr. Moreno Garcia’s great answers. You can keep the conversation going in your own communities, by asking your doctors and nurses some of these questions too. And remember to thank them, because they are superheroes!
Top photo: Idress Seyawash, founder of Ketab lwast mobile library, started his travel from Afghanistan's Jalalabad city, in Nangarhar Province, to surrounding rural villages in the Bihsud District as part of a 25-day campaign to raise children's awareness about COVID 19 by sharing measures they can take to protect themselves, including frequent handwashing. © UNICEF/UNI325981