Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Lessons from the frontlines: a junior doctor’s experience of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in a resource-limited setting
  1. Brabaharan Subhani1,
  2. Dilushi Wijayaratne1,2,
  3. Saroj Jayasinghe1,2
  1. 1 Clinical Medicine, NHSL, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  2. 2 Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  1. Correspondence to Professor Saroj Jayasinghe, Clinical Medicine, NHSL, Colombo 00800, Sri Lanka; saroj{at}


COVID-19 has stressed healthcare systems across the globe. We present the experience of an intern medical officer working in a tertiary care hospital during the first wave of the pandemic in Sri Lanka. Her narrative describes how the stress of the pandemic brought into sharp focus the strengths and weaknesses in the health system. We suggest some strategies to improve our health services as the world faces the second wave and an uncertain future. These include structural changes in healthcare services at institutional and national levels, focused educational programmes for healthcare professionals to impart generic skills of disaster management, and the development of telehealth services and computerisation of health systems. We believe that we must maintain this focus to ensure that our patients can be guaranteed quality healthcare in the future.

  • COVID-19
  • medical humanities
  • narrative ethics
  • interprofessional education

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors The idea for the article was given by SJ, who noted the ongoing problems in the health sector due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The article was written by BS, the intern whose narrative of her experiences are given. The article was supervised by both DW and SJ, who further added the sections on lessons learnt and the way to move forward amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.