More health workers have died in Mexico after contracting Covid-19 than in any other country, according to an analysis by Amnesty International.
At least 1,320 workers in the sector are confirmed to have died, a figure that is more than 20% higher than the health worker death toll in the United States, which ranks second for fatalities with 1,077 and has the largest known coronavirus outbreak in the world.
The United Kingdom, Brazil and Russia rank third to fifth for Covid-19 deaths among health workers, according to the Amnesty International analysis, with 649,634 and 631 respectively.
The human rights organization highlighted that the Mexican government has been keeping a detailed registry of such deaths, with disaggregated data on age, gender and profession.
“Such transparency is essential and all countries should be making this kind of detail available; it may also go some way to explaining the disturbing figures from Mexico relative to other countries,” it said.
Around the world, at least 7,000 health workers have died after contracting Covid-19, Amnesty International said.
“For over 7,000 people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale,” said Steve Cockburn, the organization’s head of economic and social justice.
“Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price. Many months into the pandemic, health workers are still dying at horrific rates in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the U.S.A., while the rapid spread of infections in South Africa and India show the need for all states to take action,” he said.
“There must be global cooperation to ensure all health workers are provided with adequate protective equipment, so they can continue their vital work without risking their own lives.”
In Mexico, where more than 97,000 health workers have tested positive for Covid-19 according to Health Ministry data published last week, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel have protested scores of times to demand access to the high quality personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to be able to treat coronavirus patients safely.
The government has said since late March that health workers have all the PPE they require, and brought millions of dollars worth of medical supplies into the country from China, but while the frequency of the protests has decreased they have not disappeared completely.
Of 97,632 health workers who have tested positive for coronavirus in Mexico, 42% were nurses, 27% were doctors and the remaining 31% were other medical personnel and hospital cleaning staff, according to government data.
Amnesty International noted that there have been reports that hospital cleaners in Mexico are especially vulnerable to infection.
“Many cleaners in health settings in Mexico are outsourced, which means they have less protection,” the organization said.
In a separate report, Amnesty International cited the case of a 70-year-old man identified only as Don Alejandro, who works as a cleaner at ISSSTE hospitals in Mexico City.
It said that he requested to be re-assigned away from hospital areas to clean only administrative areas due to his vulnerability to Covid-19 as an older person. His request was granted by the private company for which he works but his already meager salary was cut by 16%, Amnesty International said.
The human rights group also said that it has received information from various sources that indicates that cleaning staff contracted by a private company for which Don Alejandro works are not provided with medical face masks or adequate PPE even when they are exposed to hospital areas in close proximity to patients who have tested positive for Covid-19.
Echoing Amnesty International’s plea, Pan American Health Organization director Carissa Etienne said Wednesday that all countries need to ensure that health workers can do their jobs safely by providing with them with sufficient PPE as well as infection control training.
She noted that about one in seven coronavirus infections in Mexico and the United States were detected among health workers.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus case tally increased to 610,957 on Wednesday with 4,921 new cases registered by health authorities. The federal Health Ministry estimates that there are 40,599 active cases across the country while the results of 81,775 Covid-19 tests are not yet known.
The Covid-19 death toll rose to 65,816 on Wednesday with 575 additional fatalities reported.
Mexico has the eighth highest number of confirmed cases in the world, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University, and ranks fourth for Covid-19 deaths behind the United States, Brazil and India.
Source: El Universal (sp)