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News Article

Medical Staff Represents 25 Percent of COVID-19 Deaths in Mexico

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 05/13/2020 - 11:25

Yesterday, WHO declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. According to official data coming with the announcement, due to the pandemic, 6 million nurses have died. This concerning number sits along with the existing 5.9 million deficit of nurses globally, even before the pandemic.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, Mexico has 8,544 positive cases of COVID-19 among medical staff, being nurses the most affected ones. Most cases relate to IMSS’ workers. In total, there have been 111 deaths in the sector.

Breaking down the cases, 41 percent are nurses, 37 percent are doctors, 19 percent are part of administrative staff, 2 percent are laboratory workers and 1 percent are odontologists. This frightening scenario is similar around the globe and in some places, it is clear that medical staff has insufficient protection material and protocols to remain safe from contagion.

The mix of a novel virus, no treatment or cure, lack of supplies and protection equipment and unclear action protocols is putting healthcare workers in danger. Furthermore, crisis sometimes pushes them to make moral decisions that can damage their long-term phycological health.

The whole world has witnessed how improvised protection equipment has been used on healthcare workers and how they have been making the most out of the resources they have been given or that many times they have to get and purchase for themselves. A report from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) exposes how this dilemma is reaching its limits and presents the question of “when does work-based risk become unacceptable?” Healthcare workers on the frontline are key in the fight against COVID-19 but if they are all getting infected, the response weakens and it amplifies the risks of contagion for others, as well as for their families and close ones. As the report exposes, healthcare workers not only face lack of resources but they have to look for the safety of their close ones and of other patients that need treatments, while still being exposed to a potential mortal risk. According to the analysis made by BMJ, under these circumstances, doctors cannot be forced to give treatment or be criticized or punished for choosing not to participate in these efforts, meaning that those who are choosing to stay must be properly rewarded and applauded for their sacrifice.

In Mexico, human resources scarcity in healthcare was already a pressing issue. The goal of universal coverage still as a lot of room for improvement and this pandemic has just amplified what was already failing. Luckily, things are starting to change. Mexican authorities have been making efforts on recruiting more staff during the pandemic and educational programs to fill the enormous lack of nurses in the country began years ago.

Aside from this, as a way to protect medical staff in the frontline of the pandemic in Mexico, many companies and the government have tried to come together to create conditions that would make them feel more safe, as they did not just faced risks at work but also harassment and aggressions from people in fear of contagion. It is clear that the sector needs to provide further protection to really make healthcare workers feel and be safe during the pandemic.

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Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst