Lieutenant Dr. Arya Khadka is a Nepali peacekeeper serving as a medical officer with the United Nations Mission (MINUSCA) in Bambari, Central African Republic, where prevention efforts are being implemented to deter the COVID-19 outbreak. In a recent Instagram interview with UN Peacekeeping leading up to the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, Lt. Dr. Khadka shared some of the challenges as well as what motivates her. This story has been written based on her interview.
“Every day is unpredictable. It’s like being on duty 24-hours a day because you cannot really [anticipate] what is going to happen. COVID-19 is a battle that everyone is facing, and we all are warriors.
As a medical officer for MINUSCA, I am responsible for taking care of the medical staff and troops. My team and I hold classes and trainings to educate [the troops] on COVID-19, the symptoms and the measures to fight it. By doing this, we are also protecting the community from a possible source of infection.
In Bambari, luckily, we do not yet have a case, but we have to be prepared. Right now, you cannot walk into a health facility without consulting a doctor, so people call me to check their symptoms and get advice. We are also creating isolation facilities for troops in different contingents.
People still need to move around to maintain their livelihoods, so a complete lockdown is a big challenge. However, national authorities have implemented the World Health Organization’s guidelines at the national level and have disseminated information on COVID-19 to educate the public on what to do. Although the situation is unpredictable, we are still working to maintain peace.
It feels sad to be away [from my family]. I have an 88-year-old grandma who calls me and says, “if the situation was normal, you would be with us at home.” I tell her that it’s true, but there are people who look up to me with hope and I have a great responsibility. When I say that, she smiles and tells me I’m doing a great job. Although it can be challenging, at the end of the day, the happiness of my patients when they [recover] motivates me.”