Eight health workers have died and 560 have been infected by the coronavirus in Colombia, the National Health Institute (INS) said Wednesday as medical organizations call for the urgent provision of personal protection equipment (PPE’s).
The INS said that 470 of the health workers were infected at work where only 12% have access to adequate PPE, according to the Colombian Medical Federation (FMC).
The doctors and nurses make up 6.5% of the 6.414 active cases of coronavirus in the country, the INS said.
According to an FMC poll that was released earlier this week, 40% of health workers have considered resigning out of fear of infection or infecting others over the lack of PPE’s.
If we have not been able to ensure the biosafety of frontline health care workers for Covid19 , how are we going to do it with 7.5 million manufacturing and construction workers?
FMC vice-president Carolina Corcho
The health ministry said on April 15 it had sent all the funds to buy the necessary PPE’s to regional governments and health intermediaries.
The FMC poll held among more than 900 health workers showed that almost half of the doctors and nurses felt forced to buy their own PPE’s in order to be able to work safely.
The failure to protect Colombia’s healthcare personnel may be particularly critical, but the situation is not unique, according to the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
Coronavirus infections among health workers
Source: INS / ICN
The international organization said Thursday that worldwide at least 90,000 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 260 have died, according to Turkish press agency Anadolu.
“Nurses and healthcare workers have been put at greater risk because of the lack of personal protective equipment and poor preparedness for this pandemic.” ICN chief executive officer Howard Catton said.
The lack of PPE’s is not only a risk for the health workers, but poses a threat to Colombia’s healthcare system, whose capacity to treat coronavirus patients could be severely limited if doctors and nurses fall ill or die.