Dubai nurse nominated for $250,000 prize for her exceptional work during COVID-19

Dubai nurse nominated for $250,000 prize for her exceptional work during COVID-19

A Dubai nurse went above and beyond to fulfill her responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. To honour her contribution to the healthcare sector, Dubai authorities have nominated the nurse for a $250,000 (Dh981,500) award.

From India, Jasmine Mohammed Sharaf was nominated for the international the Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award. She is one of the 10 finalists for the honour. According to reports, a selection panel will be judging her voluntary work outside her nursing job.

Mother of two, Ms Sharaf is the sole provider for her family after her husband lost his job during the pandemic. Going beyond her duties, she visited low-income workers to deliver food, personal protective equipment, and ensured health checks for people who were isolating or were unable to attend hospitals.

Using her Toyota Yaris, the 42-year-old made a makeshift ambulance to take patients into hospitals for check-ups in order to reduce the pressure of emergency services. The nurse herself is suffering from diabetes and asthma, even then she continued to serve those in need. 

Speaking with the media, she expressed her ordeal stating that she was herself quite scared at the start of the pandemic. 

“We could not accommodate everyone at the health centre and other patients were afraid to go to hospital because of COVID-19. My role changed to going out into the community, particularly to help low-income workers," she added.

She launched the efforts of the Dubai Health Authority who helped and communicated with people infected with COVID-19. 

“I told people not to worry, and gave my number out so they could call me if they needed anything," she said. 

The nurse has been living in the UAE for 19 years and currently working at the Al Khawaneej Health Centre. She lives in Sharjah with her husband, 20-year-old son who is a medical student and nine-year-old daughter.

After finishing her hospital shifts at 3 pm, she would venture out into communities around Sharjah, Deira, Rashidiya and Al Quoz to help deliver on-the-ground care and pandemic updates.

As a frontline health worker, she was able to travel freely around the city to help those in need. She used to carry an oximeter with her to conduct COVID-19 checks on people showing symptoms. In case of major infection, she used to take them to hospital in her own car.

“Many people lost their jobs or had little money, but needed to go to hospital. I tried to help as many as possible by giving them lifts. I set up a Whatsapp group so people could get hold of me easily, whenever they needed," Sharaf added.

She noted that her husband helped in cooking meals with chicken and rice for people in underprivileged communities who lost their work.

“My family were worried as I had no vaccine, and I also had my own health conditions to deal with. I reassured them that it was the right thing to do," the nurse added,

In September 2020, she contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital for two weeks. However, she never stopped to help people who needed support in line with her love for her job. 

She is one of 10 international finalists for the award. Other healthcare professionals hail from India, the UK, America, Kenya, Australia and Afghanistan. Hoping she wins, the $250,000 prize would prove to be a life-changing opportunity to her children’s education.

“I have some loans to repay and my husband lost his job as a limo driver, so it has been difficult for us. I want to give some money to poorer people who need it more than me, but also support my family," she added.

More than 24,000 applicants were reported from 184 countries for the award. The finalists have been selected after a stringent review process conducted by consultants Ernst and Young and a jury.

Applications were further evaluated to create a shortlist of 181. It was later reduced to 41, following which top 10 finalists were announced. 

Nominees have been asked to enter the contest on the basis of four areas of contribution: leadership, research and innovation, and patient care and community service.

The final winner will be announced on May 12 on the occasion of International Nurses Day.

According to Dr Azad Moopen, managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, the award will serve as an honour for their contribution during the challenging time. 

“During this pandemic, their critical contribution with dedication and sacrifice, putting their own safety and lives at risk, was brought to the forefront globally. We thought that it appropriate to institute a global level award for the nurses to recognise the members of this noble profession," Dr Moopen added.


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