Health Workers in Nicaragua Support Each Other Faced with Government Neglect

Cleaning, cooking and morgue personnel also face high risk because they handle materials where the coronavirus adheres itself.

By EFE (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – A day for biosecurity materials collection, for a high-tech clinic to rule out suspected cases of Covid-19 and to disinfect cars, among other measures, reflected this Sunday how health workers support each other to face the pandemic in Nicaragua.

The need for biosecurity equipment to care for patients with Covid-19 came to light in May, when the contagion curve was beginning to rise in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in Latin America, which sparked solidarity in the health associations.

“There is a lot of solidarity within the medical profession. I see it every day. They cannot say anything in public, but each one buys their own things and gives them away among the staff, not only the doctors, the cleaning staff, security guards, who have tiresome shifts,” said Heydi Salazar, a volunteer dedicated to collecting and distributing biosecurity equipment.

Support from the health sectors ranges from donating a cap to expensive chest studies, which are performed free of charge for physicians caring for patients with Covid-19.

“We started providing alcohol, from room to room, and we were seeing all their needs. I started to call for help on social networks, and people have donated, which is important because not only doctors are in need,” said Salazar.

The volunteer stated that, in addition to the doctors, the cleaning, kitchen and morgue staff also face high risk because they manipulate materials where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus adheres itself, which produces the disease of Covid-19.

Needs and data

Among the main needs, according to Salazar, are rubber boots for cleaning workers, disposable gowns, capes, suitable masks, gloves, caps, medical pajamas or alcohol.

For lower-ranking workers, who earn close to the minimum wage, equivalent to 185 dollars, which doesn’t even cover half of the basic products, it is not possible to buy biosecurity equipment, said the volunteer, since they cost more than 100 dollars.

According to data provided by the epidemiologist Leonel Arguello, member of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee, more than 400 health workers have presented symptoms of COVID-19 in Nicaragua, of which, at least 34 have died.

Surgeon Jose Luis Borge, leader of the Nicaraguan Medical Unity, pointed out that sick leave, plus resignations and layoffs have caused some hospital to work at times with 10% to 15% less staff.

“There is a great need. Some people wash disposable protection materials and reuse them, because they have no choice,” Salazar maintains.

The Nicaraguan Government, which has not established restrictions, has reported 1,354 people affected by the pandemic, with 55 deaths. The independent Covid-19 Citizens Observatory has 5,027 cases and 1114 deaths.

Arguello, Borge and Salazar maintain that these figures could fall “short” with respect to what is observed daily in hospitals.