Groups say gov’t must be accountable for health workers’ death due to COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines – The government should be held accountable for the death of health workers who were fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, two groups calling for the protection of health workers said on Tuesday, International Workers’ Memorial Day.
The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) and the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) explained that fewer health workers would have been infected with the latest coronavirus strain if the government had placed measures to protect them.
As of this writing, the Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 1,336 health workers who have contracted the disease, 29 of whom have died. This means that 16.7% of the total number of COVID-19 patients in the country are health workers.
“Many in our ranks are infected and some have died due to lack of PPE and failure to conduct systematic testing and proper treatment. Health workers’ lives are worth more than P1Million as part of the DOH and Duterte administration’s death benefit to health workers who died due to the virus,” AHW National President Robert Mendoza said in a statement.
“If the DOH and the Duterte administration are truly concerned about the health workers’ safety; in the first place, there should be a clear, preventive and comprehensive medical plan and prompt preparations to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases,” he added.
According to Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD executive director, the infection of health workers poses a risk to the country’s overall fight and goal of flattening the infection curve, as patients rely on doctors, nurses, medical technologists, and other hospital staffers to recover.
“We condemn the government for failing to provide sufficient protection to our health workers. At the same time, we raise the alarm on the rising deaths and infections among their ranks,” De Leon said.
“The increase in infections among health workers is alarming and poses great danger not only to their lives but to all the patients who rely on them to recover from the disease. Protecting our health workers now is key to saving the lives of millions of Filipinos,” she explained.
This is not the first time that the current administration was asked to look after the welfare of healthcare personnel. Even before the cases among those in the medical field piled up, various institutions have asked the government to supply personal protective equipment to health workers, to shield them.
With the increase in cases, the World Health Organization notes that the Philippines has one of the highest infection rates among health workers, compared to just 2% to 3% for countries in the Western Pacific region — which includes China, where the new coronavirus originated.
The DOH has been slammed for saying that not all health workers would be tested but only those with mild and severe symptoms= — despite reports that there are asymptomatic patients who tested positive for the coronavirus.
“The DOH statements add insult to the injury of the government’s lack of preparation and slow-paced action in ensuring the health workers’ safety. The government continues to neglect the health and safety of our frontliners and that’s why deaths and infections among them continue to rise,” De Leon added.
According to the DOH, 493 of infected health workers are doctors, 507 are nurses, 74 are nursing assistants, 28 medical technologists, and 11 midwives.
As of this writing, the DOH has confirmed 7,958 COVID-19 patients nationwide, of whom 530 have died and 975 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 3.04 million individuals have been infected, while at least 210,913 have died from the disease and over 889,406 have recovered from it.
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