Just a Simple Thank YouBy Miriam Bello | Fri, 04/03/2020 - 11:17
Doctors and nurses confronting the crisis have the highest risk of contagion but also, according to the numbers from Wuhan, 15 percent of the roughly 1,700 COVID-19 cases in medical personnel as of mid-February were critical or severe. Five had died. On the subject, Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College said that “it is not that they are getting infected at higher rates. Instead, they are getting sicker than one might expect on the basis of their age.” While WHO discarded that they were at more risk of getting seriously ill, the organization admitted they risk contagion. Surveillance among healthcare workers identified factors early in the outbreak that placed them at higher risk of infection. This information has been used to modify policies to improve protection of workers.
It was WHO that also admitted that much of the global community is not yet ready, in mindset and materially, to implement the measures that have been employed to contain COVID-19 in China. European countries like Spain, that is also severely affected by the virus, stated that medical staff accounted for 14 percent of the country’s nearly 40,000 reported cases. In Italy, as of March 22, almost one in every 10 COVID-19 cases was a healthcare worker. Even in the US, according to local reports, more than 100 workers in Boston’s three biggest hospitals have already tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors from many medical facilities in the US have been complaining about shortages of protective medical gear and lax protocols.
Mexico’s panorama is worrying in numbers and in case of a crisis, this could mean everything. According to the Ministry of Health, there is still a shortage of 2,000 specialists, detailing that there is a structural deficit of human resources for health. While the country should have 3.4 doctors for every 1,000 inhabitants, it does not have more than 1.6 in average. Besides, compared to other countries, Mexican medical staff earns three times less that what doctors earn in Spain or Brazil. A doctor in the US earns 14 times more than a doctor in Mexico. Moreover, Mexican healthcare workers have also reported faulty protocols and lack of material during this pandemic.
Medical staff are always heroes to the community and during these times of crisis, they have shown their commitment and selflessness. Countries like the UK, Spain or Italy pay tribute through applause from balconies but this is sadly not the case in Mexico. On the contrary, medical staff have reported discrimination and harassments on the streets. The situation has gotten so bad that CONAPRED has made a call for society to avoid discriminatory acts after detecting violence due to unfounded suspicions about people’s state of health.
While the most important measures to protect medical staff depend on the public sector, society can do much to help. Staying home and taking the necessary precautions to avoid the virus is the most helpful thing. However, keeping in mind the importance of the work and sacrifice of healthcare professionals to keep all of us safe and healthy would be a gamechanger action in Mexico.