Covid-19 has exposed health workers and their families to unprecedented levels of risk. While an increasing number of doctors are getting infected and losing their lives every day, a substantial number of them have been found to be general practitioners.
Being trapped inside PPE suits, battling the fear of contracting Covid-19 and not meeting children, spouses or parents for weeks. Yet, attacks on health care have continuously been reported and their family members are at particularly high risk of experiencing attacks due to the wrongful belief that they have become vectors of contagion in a community.
One in seven cases of Covid-19 reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a health worker and in some countries that figure rises to one in three.
We can only keep patients safe when we keep health workers 👩🏽⚕️👨🏻⚕️ safe.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) September 17, 2020
According to WHO, health workers represent less than 3% of the population in the large majority of countries and less than 2% in almost all low- and middle-income countries, around 14% of Covid-19 cases reported to WHO are among health workers. In some countries, the proportion can be as high as 35%.
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In addition to physical risks, the pandemic has placed extraordinary levels of psychological stress on health workers exposed to high-demand settings for long hours, living in constant fear of disease exposure while separated from family and facing social stigmatization.
Before Covid-19 hit, medical professionals were already at higher risk of suicide in all parts of the world. A recent review of health care professionals found one in four reported depression and anxiety, and one in three suffered insomnia during Covid-19.
Since a significant proportion of the population consult general practitioner due to fever and its related symptoms, they remain the first point of contact as well as care, the doctors’ body.
According to the IMA, the government concealed the morbidity and mortality of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers during Covid-19 management. However, the data prepared by the IMA shows, at least 382 doctors have died in the pandemic due to Covid-19.
IMA also commends to the Central government that they seek such data from the representatives of nurses and other healthcare workers.
“If the Government doesn’t maintain the statistics of a total number of doctors and healthcare workers infected by Covid-19 and the statistics of how many of them sacrificed their life due to the pandemic, it loses the moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act,” Dr Rajan Sharma, National President of IMA said.
Earlier, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the IMA requested him to ensure adequate care for doctors and their families who are a special risk group and extend the state-sponsored medical and life insurance facilities to doctors in all the sectors.
#IMA requests Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri @narendramodi Ji to consider the plea of treating our #doctors who have acted as warriors in the war of #COVID19 and lost lives at par with the martyrs of Indian Armed Forces. pic.twitter.com/AjmGBTVnyE
— Indian Medical Association (@IMAIndiaOrg) August 30, 2020
“Saving each and every life of a doctor will ensure the safety of thousands of patients who depend on their care. Doctors who have died in the line of their professional duty merit favourable consideration for succour and solace to their families. It is thus pertinent for the IMA to also draw your attention to the demoralising effect to our healthcare community,” said Dr R V Asokan, Secretary-General, IMA
To mark World Patient Safety Day, WHO is launching a charter on health worker safety, which we invite all countries, hospitals, clinics and partners to adopt and implement. No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe.
No country, hospital or clinic can keep patients safe unless it keeps #healthworkers safe.
Today, @WHO launched a health worker safety charter to ensure they have safe working conditions, training, pay & the respect they deserve.https://t.co/3Fks43r4JN #WorldPatientSafetyDay
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 17, 2020
Now more than ever, we have a duty to give health workers the safe working conditions, the training, the pay and the respect they deserve.