Around the world, 2020 was a tough year for everyone. With a pandemic and an unprecedented lockdown, nobody was prepared for the situation. Washing hands, social distancing, wearing masks, and living with the sense of perpetual fear became the new reality.
By September 2020, people seemed to have had enough of the bad news. This was reflected in the mental state of people who were living with continuous stress. So Onlymyhealth.com, the health Web site of Jagran New Media, decided to break the cycle of panic and fear, shifting our focus to positive stories.
We created The Healthcare Heroes Awards as a reminder that heroes still existed. Healthcare workers were working 10-, 12-, 16-, sometimes 24-hour shifts without recognition. Very little was known about the innovators who were fighting against time to develop tools and weapons against the virus; the scientists fighting fake news; the activists feeding the hungry; the artists; the educators; the lone wolf warriors; first responders; the caregivers ... the list was long.
While some of us were fighting the pandemic by staying home, others were fighting by showing up — each time — undeterred.
Identifying COVID Heroes
The OnlyMyHealth.com team searched the country for those who gave hope for a better tomorrow. Through our network of reporters in the print wing of Jagran Prakashan, through stringers spread across the country, through social media outreach, and with a lot of leg work and editorial vetting, we created a nomination list.
The Healthcare Heroes Awards nominations were placed under five categories that each had three sub-categories. Our teams spent more than four weeks understanding and appreciating the impact of the work of our nominees.
The Healthcare Heroes nomination list proudly had names like Turtle Shell Technologies, Asimov Robotics, etc. Also noteworthy were nominations of individual efforts in the face of adversity: doctors, nurses, and paramedics, who went beyond the call of duty; or those disproving fake news around COVID.
In our interviews and interactions, we found one commonality. Despite our heroes being from different parts of the country, often speaking different languages or praying to different gods, the thing they all believed in was putting others before themselves and an unwavering resolve to make a difference.
OnlyMyHealth.com received unanimous support from the health community. In our jury panel, we found the best and most credible names of doctors, policymakers, and researchers. Support also came from the union health minister, who joined the event and boosted the morale and determination of the Healthcare Heroes. The campaign was also supported by brands that believed in the power of credible, positive stories.
Celebrating the human spirit, technology, and hope
The Healthcare Heroes Awards honoured the selfless service and never-say-die attitude of organisations and individuals. But it was also an endeavour to break the cacophony of fake news and fear-mongering. OnlyMyHealth.com and Jagran New Media took a step in the direction of bringing in hope and possibility in grim times.
The final event was a virtual awards ceremony and turned out to be an emotional evening for all attendees who, no doubt felt reassured and hopeful because India’s Healthcare Heroes were at work for no credit or praise.