Friday, October 9, 2020

Coronavirus on the Nile : Egypt’s Fallen Healthcare workers in Graphs

From two weeks, Egyptian Chronicles published a small attempt to commemorate the fallen victims of Egypt’s healthcare sector since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Egypt till half September.

Thanks to aspiring journalist Moataz Weza, me and others are able to know in more details as much as we can the sacrifices of those doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians and workers in those 8 months.

They were not only numbers and thanks to Weza, we know more about them with their names and faces.

May Allah bless their souls and bring patience to their families.

The documentation of Weza had also huge raw data that gives us a very interesting insight when it comes to this pandemic that is reshaping the world currently.

An Egyptian doctor checking an x-Ray "AP"
An Egyptian doctor checking an x-Ray "AP"

We know the locations, the dates and the specializations of those victims on the front line. In a very modest attempt, I looked to this raw data to know more information about how coronavirus hit Egypt’s first medical defence line.

I know that the world is still in a tough battle with coronavirus and the more accurate information we have, we will win more ground and more lives can be saved.

Now after this attempt to have a decent and appropriate introduction, here is what I found. 

Again this information is based upon the official statements of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, the doctors syndicates, pharmacists syndicates, news websites and victims' families on social media.

This is from the period from March where the first case of Egyptian doctor to die due to coronavirus till 15 September. 

General Information

The list documented nearly 280 healthcare workers' fatalities in Egypt. 

On 8 October 2020, Egypt has officially recorded in total 6,017 fatalities since the outbreak of the virus in the country so we are speaking about 4.65% of the fatalities here or rather 5%. 

When I checked online, I found that it is a global issue to find an accurate number of victims among healthcare workers there are official attempts thanks to unions and human rights organizations. 

According to tot the Nurses Union in the United States, more 1,700 healthcare worker passed away due to coronavirus since the outbreak of the virus till September. 

Amnesty International published an analysis in early September saying that the world recorded over 7,000 deaths among the Healthcare workers globally. It considered Egypt among the countries with the highest estimated numbers of health workers who have died from COVID-19 despite it only counted the Doctors only. 

Now to our data. 

According to the information available online, 71% of the victims are doctors followed by the pharmacists then nurses then technicians and other workers.

If you carefully follow the news in Egypt in the past few months especially in May, June, and July, you will know that Egyptian doctors were hit hard and their unions; above them Egyptian Medical syndicate or as commonly known Doctors syndicate openly spoke about the matter.

The Doctors syndicate’s official Facebook page for months turned in to a memorial FB page with photos of doctors whom the syndicate was able to confirm their death, reach their families and publish their details.

For months, the syndicate’s board criticized the ministry of health’s measures when it comes to the healthcare team and their precautionary and protection plans aside from their old and long struggle for better salaries and incentives.

The Syndicate spoke about how the coronavirus rapid tests applied by the ministry on the healthcare workers working with coronavirus patients was actually one of the main factors contributing negatively to the health of the doctors and led to the spread of the virus among them and their families.

It is inclusive according to the WHO and the only test to protect the doctors and their families is the PCR for real.

Personally, I believe there should have a talk about the Personal Protective Equipment “PPE” but it was never brought up despite it is a critical factor and it caused controversies in other countries in Europe and the United States.

The fact that pharmacists come in the second place was a surprise to me because I thought that the nurses would be second to the doctors but actually realistically speaking and as Egyptian, I understand how this happened.

First of all, many pharmacists who have passed away are from the governorates who are not part of the big pharmacies chains that applied social distancing and masks in major cities.

Second, sometimes Egyptians who can not afford visiting clinics or doctors or hospitals, they go for their street’s pharmacy asking for a blood pressure check or sugar levels in blood check or just ask the pharmacists for any cough or cold medicine.

Again those deaths should have made us ask about precautionary measures in small pharmacies and pharmacists.

When it comes to gender, well 84% of the victims are men.

Women nurses are the majority though comparing to male nurses.

Victims per month and location

Another look to the numbers and list, we will know that the month of June witnessed the highest number of fatalities among the healthcare staff in Egypt.

In general, Egypt witnessed its highest number of infection cases per day as fatalities in June 2020.

In a quick look to the numbers from March to half September, we will find that Cairo has most of the fatalities among the health workers, unfortunately, which Egypt’s New Valley in the heart of the Western desert recorded only one case.

Out of 27 governorates, 25 governorates had coronavirus deaths among its healthcare teams. Only North and South Sinai are not included in the list so far according to our knowledge.

Cairo is followed by Dakahalia and Sharkia. According to my knowledge, the staff in Mansoura Faculty of medicine was hit hard.

Victims among doctors based specialization

Now another closer look to the doctors, based on their specialization.

It is interesting to find that besides the highest number of fatalities in internal medicine and interesting gynaecology followed by paediatrics and general surgery.

By the way, surgeons were hit hard in those months in every field.

From I understood from doctors that I spoke with or know sometimes they operate without knowing that the patient has coronavirus.

Sometimes, some patients hid the information that they were coronavirus positive for fear of social stigmatization and quarantine ending up harming others.

Healthcare sector in Egypt: The other forgotten national security

This crisis proved that the health care sector is an important sector that contributes to directly Egypt’s true national security.

Without the health care workers, our people and our country are in a clear attack of some unexpected yet obvious enemies: Disease.

I think the world knows first hand how a tiny virus can kill hundreds of thousands of people away from the battlefield.

I am realistic and I know the world powers won’t realize or actually will continue to ignore that the universal health rights are fundamental and indisputable rights. 

We can't ignore also the rights of healthcare workers in the same way, it goes hand in hand. 

Unfortunately in Egypt, due to some public perceptions, many believe that the doctors should not receive better financial incentives because famous doctors are rich and have huge fees but these are the old big and famous doctors in Cairo, not those who stay at a local hospital in the heart of Nile Delta

So far not only Egypt but also Africa has somehow hit slightly by coronavirus comparing to Europe, the Americas and Asia. 

This needs to be studied for real but I am sure that the healthcare sector played a huge rule despite the very modest capabilities in the continent in general compared to the States or Europe. 

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