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New report spotlights plight of healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic

LONDON, UK: A report from Amnesty International, released last month, has revealed that more than 3,000 healthcare workers worldwide have died as a result of COVID-19. The organisation further stated that this figure is likely to be a considerable under-estimate as a result of under-reporting, prompting the American Dental Association to reassert its support for front-line healthcare workers throughout the world.

According to the report, the countries with the highest numbers of healthcare worker deaths since the
SARS-CoV-2 pandemic began include the US (507), Russia (545), the UK (540, including 262 social care workers), Brazil (351), Mexico (248), Italy (188) and Egypt (111). In addition, nearly all of the 63 countries and territories surveyed by Amnesty International were found to be facing considerable shortages of personal protective equipment.

“With the pandemic still accelerating around the world, we are urging governments to start taking health and essential workers’ lives seriously,” said Sanhita Ambast, a researcher and adviser on economic, social and cultural rights at Amnesty International in a press release.

Ambast highlighted the unsafe working conditions many healthcare workers have had to face during this crisis, which has led to strikes, threats of strikes or protests by these workers in at least 31 of the countries that Amnesty International surveyed. “It is especially disturbing to see that some governments are punishing workers who voice their concerns about working conditions that may threaten their lives. Health workers on the front line are the first to know if government policy is not working, and authorities who silence them cannot seriously claim to be prioritising public health,” she added.

Dr Chad Gehani, president of the ADA, told Dental Tribune International (DTI) that his organisation’s Advisory Task Force for Dental Practice Recovery had released a toolkit designed to help US-based dentists return to work in a safe manner.

“I have only the deepest admiration for all front-line workers across the globe who continue to do their jobs throughout the pandemic,” Gehani said to DTI. “We want to keep patients, dentists and their staff as safe as possible in the dental office, which is why we are providing an open-access toolkit to help prevent transmission of this virus.”

The report, titled Exposed, Silenced, Attacked: Failures to Protect Health and Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, was published online on 13 July 2020 by Amnesty International.

 

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