A new outbreak of covid-19, which has hit Nicaragua since April 2021, is mainly affecting health workers who are on the front line of the pandemic. According to data from the Citizen Observatory (Observatorio Ciudadano), there were at least 208 infections and more than 14 deaths in the health sector in the last three months.
According to the Observatory, doctors and nurses are the ones who have been infected the most. In the last quarter there were 58 doctors with symptoms of covid-19, and 43 nurses. They are also the ones who are dying the most from the pandemic.
“We see doctors and nurses dying every week. Unfortunately, we see all these deaths as normal, but it is not normal for them to die. There have been deaths of 33-year-olds and 50-year-olds. We are losing many years of life, of people who can be of service to the country,” lamented the doctors of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee (Comité Científico Multidisciplinario).
Deaths in the health sector increased in June. According to monitoring carried out by CONFIDENCIAL, there were reports of at least nine deaths in the health sector last month, including: nursing staff, doctors and anesthesiologists.
These deaths took place in the departments of Managua, Masaya, Estelí, Matagalpa, Granada and León. Deaths are reported from Hospital Antonio Lenin Fonseca, Hospital Alemán Nicaragüense, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Hospital Escuela Óscar Danilo Rosales (Heodra) and also from the health centers Pedro Arauz Palacios and Alejandro Dávila Bolaños.
More than 134 deaths in 15 months
The latest health professional to die and of whom there is public knowledge, is Dr. Yamileth Gaitán Dávila, informed the Association of Anesthesiologists of Nicaragua. The doctor was an anesthesiologist at the Antonio Lenín Fonseca Hospital and had been hospitalized at the Fernando Vélez Paiz Hospital for more than a week.
“Deaths are on the rise. At Lenín Fonseca (hospital) an anesthesiologist died on Wednesday and a nurse died five days later. Workers at the Hospital Aleman, Hospital Bautista and the hospital in Bolonia confirmed to us that they are overcrowded,” said an independent physician.
According to data from the Citizen Observatory the last time there were so many deaths in the medical field was between May and July 2020, while in the following months there were one or two deaths per month. These same data report that in 15 months of pandemic there was an accumulated of 1,071 infections in the medical profession, of which 591 are health workers and 177 are nurses.
The Ministry of Health (Minsa) has not reported the number of deaths in the health sector, but independent data indicate that since the first case was confirmed in the country, at least 134 people died with symptoms of covid-19, of which 95 are health workers and nurses.
Since the arrival of covid-19, social networks of medical groups have served as obituaries to honor the lives of deceased health workers. In the last seven weeks, when weekly infections increased according to Minsa data, the death notices also increased. These also include the death of eight family members of health personnel.
Health personnel not prioritized for vaccination
In Nicaragua, front-line medical personnel were the third group prioritized for vaccination. The Minsa began applying the first doses in May, but these were limited. Doctors from private hospitals detailed that each health unit made a list which was cut and then approved by the Ministry of Health.
It is not known how many physicians received the first dose during this vaccination phase. Not even the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) knows the data, according to PAHO authorities.
Rosario Murillo, vice-president and state spokeswoman, informed that the fourth vaccination phase, which began on July 1st, will continue for health personnel who were not reached in the last round.
At the beginning of 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended all governments to immunize their medical personnel during the first 100 days of this year. Nicaragua did not comply with this request. According to official statistics there are 36,649 health workers and 6045 physicians in the country.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff