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HomeLatest NewsProtect ‘healthcare heroes’ from COVID-19, urges UN rights expert

Protect ‘healthcare heroes’ from COVID-19, urges UN rights expert

NEW YORK, USA – States and business leaders must step up efforts to ensure that the selfless doctors, nurses, first-responders and other medical professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic receive adequate protective equipment, a UN rights expert said on Friday.

“Their tireless work and self-sacrifice show the best of humanity”, said Baskut Tuncak, special rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

Hailing the healthcare workers as “heroes” who “must be protected”, he stressed that unacceptable shortages in critical protective equipment that can stop them from being infected, continue to plague nearly all nations battling the new coronavirus.

Moreover, low-income countries have even fewer resources, including the necessary protection for their healthcare providers.

“Public and private funds are urgently needed to ensure that protective equipment and other medical supplies are universally available and accessible”, he stated. “States and businesses should ensure that financial obstacles are removed and that supplies are provided at no cost for low-income countries”.

He and to those hoarding equipment and exploiting the crisis for profit were nothing short of he called “abhorrent”.

“It is time to put aside our differences and to work together to protect the most vulnerable people from this virus, the elderly and those who bravely care for them: our health care workers”, said the independent rights expert.

Focusing on another vulnerable segment of the population, in societies across the globe, older persons, who are bearing the lion’s share of the pandemic, must also be fully protected from the infection, argued Rosa Kornfeld-Matte on Friday, UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, saying that they are “bearing the lion’s share of the pandemic”.

“Reports of abandoned older persons in care homes or of dead corpses found in nursing homes are alarming”, she underscored. Calling it “unacceptable”, the UN independent expert said, “we all have the obligation to exercise solidarity and protect older persons from such harm.”

In addition to a disproportionate risk of death, they are also under threat due to the extra special care they may need, or through also put them under threat, as does living in high-risk environments, such as residential homes, according to the expert.

The elderly with underlying health conditions, the socially excluded and those poverty-stricken or living in confined spaces, such as care homes and prisons and residential care homes, are of particular concern.

“Older persons have become highly visible in the COVID-19 outbreak but their voices, opinions, and concerns have not been heard”, she flagged.

“Instead, the deep-rooted ageism in our societies has become even more apparent”, she said, pointing to “some cruel and dehumanizing language on social media”.

She closed with a call to continue support services at home and in communities “without putting older persons and their care providers at risk”.

“Communities and generations must come together to get through this crisis in solidarity,” Kornfeld-Matte concluded.



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