More than 3,000 healthcare workers have died from the coronavirus globally and governments must be held responsible for their deaths, rights group Amnesty International said today.
Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States topped the list of countries with the most healthcare worker deaths, the report “Global: Health workers silenced, exposed and attacked,” said.
Out of 79 countries examined, Amnesty found that:
- In Russia, 545 healthcare workers had died from Covid-19.
- The UK saw 540 deaths -- including 262 social workers.
- The US has 507 health worker deaths.
“Countries yet to see the worst of the pandemic must not repeat the mistakes of governments whose failure to protect workers’ rights has had devastating consequences,” said Sanhita Ambast, Amnesty International’s Researcher and Advisor on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Threatened for speaking out: The report said that healthcare and essential workers have faced retaliation from authorities after being threatened with arrest, violence, a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in some cases not being paid for their job.
Two female Russian doctors are facing retaliation after complaining about a lack of PPE, with one being charged under Russia’s fake news laws and being fined up to $1,443, and the second facing disciplinary proceedings that could result in her dismissal, Amnesty found.
“Health workers on the frontline are the first to know if government policy is not working, and authorities who silence them cannot seriously claim to be prioritizing public health,” Ambast added.
Choosing "between death and jail": An unidentified Egyptian doctor told Amnesty that doctors who speak out against their conditions were faced with threats to their life and interrogations by the National Security Agency and penalties.
“Many (doctors) are preferring to pay for their own personal equipment to avoid this exhausting back and forth. (The authorities) are forcing doctors to choose between death and jail,” the unidentified Egyptian doctor told Amnesty.
Amnesty said the 3,000 deaths is likely to be underestimated due to under-reporting and differences in how countries count and collect data.