Physician victims of Covid-19 should be properly compensated

A call for physicians, who have died or fallen ill from CoViD-19, to be properly compensated has come from the World Medical Association.

In advance of tomorrow’s two-day United Nations General Assembly special session on the pandemic, Dr. David Barbe, President of the WMA, said that during the past few months physicians had received applause and recognition.

‘But what we health professionals now need is a recognition of CoVid-19 as an occupational disease with comprehensive coverage of income loss, treatment and rehabilitation costs and care for the dependents in case of death. Some countries are certainly doing better than others. However, this protection must be provided without gaps. Those who are affected need it without delay’.

Dr. Barbe said that at the WMA’s recent virtual General Assembly, physician leaders had mourned colleagues who had died from CoViD-19.

‘We don’t know the actual number. But it will certainly be in the many thousands. What we do know is that physicians were among the first to fall ill and to die. Last spring was the worst time, when many had to work without proper personal protection, in intensive care, as family physicians or public health doctors testing the population’.

He said the pandemic had taken a terrible toll on most nations. Millions of people had died, many had been taken ill, many were still suffering at this moment and many had lasting damage from “long-CoViD”. Fortunately, most people had been able to stay safe, with hygiene, distancing, face masks and in well-ventilated rooms.

‘But for doctors, nurses and other health personnel it has been very different. They had to be in close contact with their patients, in order to care for them. They had to put themselves in harm’s way.’

Dr. Barbe said the pandemic was still devastating the world and was far from over. Even with vaccines on the horizon it would last for many months to come. There would be a lot of lessons to be learnt.

‘But one thing is already very clear: Those nations which were prepared for a pandemic had far fewer problems and victims than those which were not prepared. Some thought that simply having a paper on pandemic preparedness in the drawer would be enough. This turned out to be a fatal mistake. What each country needs is a comprehensive strategy, regularly updated and fully funded.

‘One more thing is very clear: this was not the first pandemic and it will not be the last. We must have better investment in health care and prevention, and this has to start now’.