The savior has become the victim. An Amnesty International report shows more than 7,000 health workers have died the world over trying to save Covid-19 patients.
Mexico leads the chart with 1320 deaths as of first week of September. India stands sixth in the table with 573 deaths of health workers. The US, which is the worst-affected country, has reported more than a thousand deaths (1077 deaths), followed by the United Kingdom (649 deaths), Brazil (634 deaths), and Russia (631 deaths).
Among these countries, the health workers from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and India have been engaged in a constant tussle with their respective governments due to shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other safety-related concerns. Several protests against the government have been reported in these countries for not meeting the demand for safety equipment of health workers.
In an official statement, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty, Steve Cockburn said, “For over seven thousand people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale. Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price.” The survey has collected data from about eighty countries and different sources while the actual number could be even bigger.
The definition of health workers varies from country to country. In India, health workers include doctors, nurses as well as Asha workers who are working on the ground to support the government machinery.
The situation in India
India has reported 573 such deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As per the government data, about 87,000 healthcare workers had caught the infection by the end of August. The death rate among health workers is less than the national average at 0.6 per cent, which means approximately seven health workers have died out of every thousand infected.
More than half of the total deaths (292 deaths) have been reported in Maharashtra – the worst-hit state due to pandemic, followed by Delhi (51), Tamil Nadu (49 deaths) and Karnataka (46 deaths).
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have conducted more than one lakh tests on health workers and have reported almost half of these cases. Telangana, which is testing very low (only 14,678 tests a day) has the highest positivity rate at 18 per cent.
The five states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, and Gujarat – account for more than eight per cent of deaths among health workers. Seventeen states have reported at least one death since the beginning of the pandemic.
Even today, health workers struggle to get enough PPEs and other protective gear. Recently, a team of about 80 doctors had resigned from jumbo COVID 19 facility citing safety reasons.