Mexico’s Lost Health WorkersBy Rodrigo Brugada | Mon, 05/24/2021 - 19:04
While the pandemic hit everywhere hard, Mexico’s health workers suffered disproportionate losses. Amnesty International’s last global report, which came earlier this year, calculated that about 17,000 health workers had died since the start of the outbreak. At that time, Mexico had 3,596 deaths. Two months later, the official number of lives lost stands between 3,885 and 4,000.
Here’s the breakdown of the report:
As of May 10, the date of the last report, a total of 236,407 accumulated cases among health workers were reported, 62 percent of which corresponded to women and the remaining 38 percent to men. The median age of the cases is 37 years, with the most affected age group being 30-34 years old. When analyzing the behavior over time, it is noted that the distribution is the same as in the general population.
This information corresponds to the analysis of the Epidemiological Surveillance System for Viral Respiratory Disease (SISVER). The analysis reflects the cases of people who reported having a health-related occupation (dentist, nurse, laboratory technician, physician or other type of health worker). It is important to note that the information collected in SISVER does not identify whether the infection occurred in the workplace, at home or in the community, nor does it allow identifying whether the health personnel is currently working in a health care facility.
When the data are disaggregated according to the profession, it was reported that 40 percent of the total number of cases corresponded to nursing personnel, 26 percent to medical personnel and 34 percent to other healthcare workers. It was also reported that two-thirds of the total had no comorbidities. Among those who did have a disease, the most common comorbidities were obesity, hypertension and diabetes, in decreasing order.
When the deaths were analyzed, two-thirds were among men and most were in the 55-69 age group. Almost half of the deaths were among medical personnel. These figures are alarming, given that Mexico ranks first in terms of health personnel deaths.
There have been many controversies surrounding Mexico’s handling of the pandemic and its widespread effects. One of the most important critiques was made regarding how the health personnel was treated by the institutions they worked in and society. There were many cases of nurses or medical personnel dressed in their uniform that were attacked or were the victims of abuse by their neighbors or passersby. Regarding the institutional violations, health workers were denied proper PPE for a prolonged time or were made to buy their own. In some cases, such as with health professions students or the cleaning and janitorial staff, this equipment was simply denied.
Furthermore, during the last year, government spending in healthcare decreased by 26 percent. This gap in funding could have saved lives. Mexico needs to work harder to ensure safety for all its healthcare personnel. This includes PPE and vaccines for all health workers while also creating better infrastructure, working conditions, health professions education and quality of care.