Voices from the frontline: Dr Entela Kolovani

UN Women is bringing the voices of women on the front lines of the pandemic. As essential workers, care givers and journalists, here are some s(h)eroes who are out there, every day, protecting and serving their communities.

Entela Kolovani, doctor, Tirana, Albania

“The nurses are the real heroes,” says Entela Kolovani, a physician treating COVID-19 patients at the hospital of infectious diseases in Tirana, Albania.

“They carry out the most difficult tasks and most of the workload. Nurses (most of whom are women) are our greatest supporters, working endless shifts with special protective equipment on, which is very hard to keep on and work with. Their work never ends, from making up the beds of patients, to performing therapies, taking tests and filling in documents. I am so deeply grateful to them.”

Dr. Kolovani and her colleagues have been in the front line of COVID-19 response since 9 March when the first two cases were identified in Albania. Since then, the number of people infected has risen to over 361.

As care givers and essential workers, women are at increased risk of getting infected. As of now, almost 12 per cent of Albania’s reported cases of coronavirus have been health workers.

“One of our biggest challenges is to see colleagues and friends we work with every day becoming ill with COVID-19. Another challenge is how to make sure that more patients recover quickly so that we don’t overburden our health facilities,” Dr. Kolovani shared.

All medical staff at the hospital are working longer hours, including her husband, who is also a doctor. The coronavirus pandemic has put unprecedented strain on families, especially when partners are working in health or other essential services.

Dr. Kolovani and her husband have not seen their sons since the pandemic hit the country. “Since both me and my husband work at the same hospital and do the same job, the risk of infection for our son and other family members is very high,” she explains. When they return home after a long day at the hospital, the house feels empty. “But it is better this way, keeping the distance to avoid infecting your loved ones,” she adds.