In the Covid-19 pandemic, Brazil has set a world record for healthcare worker deaths — and the president and governors are responsible. The country has 30 percent of the world’s fatalities among nurses, a shameful mark that illustrates the dreadful working conditions Brazilian health professionals face. Healthcare workers are the ones who most dearly for the lack of personal protective equipment and government negligence.
A total of 316 nurses have already lost their lives fighting the coronavirus in Brazil as of July 29. 64 percent of the victims are women. The majority of Brazilian healthcare workers are women.
According to the Observatório da Enfermagem (Nurses Monitoring Group), 29,609 nurses, technicians, and assistants have contracted Covid-19 in Brazil. Among those infected, 12,994 were under quarantine and 200 were hospitalized. São Paulo also leads states in this category, with 4,915 infected nurse professionals since March. Rio de Janeiro follows with 4,239, and Bahia with 3,428. The spread of Covid-19 cases among nurses in the south of Brazil is also noteworthy. The states with the fourth and fifth-highest totals are Rio Grande do Sul (1,993) and Santa Catarina (1,708), both located in the south of the country.
As of July 27, São Paulo leads Brazilian states, with 52 healthcare worker death, followed by and Rio de Janeiro with 45 deaths. TThe states of Pernambuco (29), Amapá (19) and Mato Grosso and Amazonas (each with 18 deaths) follow. The effects of the federal government’s denialism and lack of support are reinforced by several governors, who have acted essentially as executioners of the frontline workers most exposed to the pandemic.
In Rio de Janeiro, public-sector healthcare workers haven’t been paid in more than two months, on top of suffering from spending cuts, massive layoffs, and even corruption scandals. Governments are shifting resources as workers die.
Hoi Shan Fokeladeh of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) declared in an interview with the news agency Brasil de Fato, “In our investigation, we found that 7% of all those infected worldwide are healthcare workers.” The article states, “Around the globe, there have been more than 16 million infections, of which 1.1 million are health professionals (which beyond nurses includes doctors, therapists, pharmacists, among others.”
Brazilian nurses between ages 41 and 50 have been most affected, with a total of 96 deaths. Some 86 nurses between 51 and 60 have died. Younger nurses between 31 and 40 have not been spared; 61 have died.
Bolsonaro, along with the military, shows complete contempt for the lives of the poor who are dying in massive numbers as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, several governors like São Paolo’s João Dória have tried to present themselves as the “serious” politicians in the fight against the health crisis, but haven’t taken even minimal prevention measures like tests, masks and personal protective equipment for workers.
Healthcare workers are on the frontlines in the fight against the virus, but in precarious and unsafe working conditions. They lack access to adequate testing and PPE, and know that each day when they return home from work they risk infecting their families.
At a moment in which the pandemic is spreading throughout the country, we need to demand massive testing, personal protective equipment, and adequate treatment for all those infected.