Sydney’s Indian Crescent Society of Australia organised a panel discussion and Q&A on COVID-19 and vaccination for members of the diaspora community on Saturday. The event was co-ordinated by Dr Habib Bhurawala , Paediatrician and Health co-ordinator of ICSOA.
The objective and purpose of ICSOA is to integrate and have a collective voice for Indian Muslims in Australia, representing them on Indian platforms in Australia and contributing towards the welfare of Muslims in India.
Membres of ICSOA who participated in the panel discussion included Dr Soliman Qurashi, Sydney based orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Abdul Ahad Khan (GP), Dr Zakir Akhunji (Cardiothoracic surgeon), Dr Shakeel Abbas (Pathologist and haematologist) and Dr Habib Bhurawala (Paediatrician). He also introduced health experts such as Dr Mohamed Assoum (Infectious disease epidemiologist and public health researcher), Dr Ali Parappil (Respiratory and sleep physician), Dr Asif Raza (Intensive care and anaesthesia specialist), Dr Ahmed Al-Omary (General Medicine and infectious disease advanced trainee) and Dr Fariha Dib (General practitioner).
The question-answer session was moderated by Dr Habib Bhurawala. The health experts answered a wide range of questions covering topics ranging from signs and symptoms of COVID19, an overview of various treatments are available for COVID19, treatment for COVID19 in the intensive care unit (ICU), including ventilators. They also explained the effectiveness of vaccination in reducing hospital admission, ICU admission and death.
They have strongly urged community members to follow current recommendations about vaccination and avoid delays in getting vaccinated to reduce their risk of hospitalisation and ICU admission due to COVID19. They have clarified various myths and misconceptions regarding vaccines and COVID19, especially questions about the safety and efficacy of both Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines. Experts clearly explained and reassured the audience that the huge benefits provided by both currently available vaccines in Australia (Astra Zeneca and Pfizer) far outweigh the small risk of complications or adverse effects of vaccinations.
Community members were also urged to not delay treatment for other chronic medical conditions due to COVID19. The experts highlighted the impact of COVID19 on mental health. There are various options to seek help from resources such as mental health helplines and contacting GP if anyone is concerned about mental health. Community members were urged to keep regular contact with friends and families who may be experiencing stress and difficulties by reaching out and supporting each other during this difficult time.