TNM’s Anna Isaac wins PII-ICRC Awards for story on doctors’ dilemma during COVID-19

Anna Isaac’s story highlighted the difficult choices healthcare workers had to make in the face of limited medical resources during the second COVID-19 wave.
Anna Isaac
Anna Isaac
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The News Minute’s Anna Isaac has won the first prize from the International Committee of the Red Cross, New Delhi and Press Institute of India, Chennai, for her story, “Who gets to live? COVID-19 is causing moral distress among India’s doctors,” published on May 14, 2021. The 15th PII-ICRC Annual Awards for best article and photograph on a humanitarian subject were announced on Friday, November 19, and the theme for this year was ‘Superheroes - Battling at the frontlines in the times of crisis.’

Anna’s story explored the dilemmas that doctors and healthcare workers faced during the second wave of COVID-19 infections in India. Due to the major paucity of resources such as ICU beds and oxygen cylinders, they had to decide whom among the critical patients would get access to these life-saving facilities. Apart from rationing facilities such as oxygen cylinders and ventilators, many doctors were compelled to make hard choices based on which patients would have a higher chance of surviving, who were breadwinners in their families and so on.

Anna says her motivation to do the story came from the lack of empathy towards the medical community during the pandemic. “I don’t think as laypersons, we are able to fathom the kind of physical, emotional and moral stress that doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers faced and continue to face during the pandemic. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that many of us are guilty of not seeing doctors as human,” she says.

“One doctor I spoke to asked me what I would do if I were in his situation. I didn’t have an answer. Imagine having to live with your decision – of who gets an ICU bed or gets oxygen and therefore who gets to live – not for that day, but the rest of your life,” she adds.

Anna also thanked the doctors who took time out to speak with her for the story despite the critical situation they were in, and for the work that they continue to do. “I’d also like to thank my Editor-in-Chief Dhanya Rajendran for helping me with this story.”

Anna Isaac is a journalist with over a decade of experience in television and digital news reporting. Her stories have covered an extensive range of important subjects – from elections and crises in Tamil Nadu’s politics to natural disasters like floods and cyclones. Like many of her peers, she was thrown into covering the pandemic – breaking down official data, understanding the science behind the vaccines, questioning government policy and writing about the human cost of COVID-19.

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