A group of German medical doctors have posed naked online in an effort to highlight a shortage of protective clothing and equipment, which they say leaves them at a greater risk of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus.
Their protest, known as Blanke Bedenken or Blank Concerns, displays pictures of their bodies in nude, with the workers posing in creative ways to hide their private parts. They use their website to call out politicians and ensure that doctors have enough protective equipment.
"The nudity should symbolize that we are vulnerable without protection," said Doctor Ruben Bernau, who spoke to German newspaper Ärztezeitung. The campaign was inspired by French doctor Alain Colombié, who posted pictures on his Facebook page of him posing naked with only a stethoscope and bands on the arm and forehead, tagged “Cannon Fodder” in a protest against the lack of protection allocated to health personnel in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, in France.
Germany presently has about 171,000+ confirmed cases and a death toll of over 7,500. Germany has been commended for facing the Covid-19 pandemic better than Italy, the United States, Spain and France despite the universal lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
However, it is not only in Germany or France that healthcare workers are facing this issue of limited supplies. According to the International Council of Nurses, over 90,000 health workers have been infected with Covid-19 worldwide. This shortage in PPE – including surgical masks, respirators (N95 masks), eye protection (goggles), latex gloves, boots, long-sleeve gowns and hazmat suits – is putting lives at risk of the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases. It also makes healthcare workers unable to protect other patients from being infected.
This global shortage has a variety of causes, including problems with the global supply chain. Prior to this pandemic, China produced a majority of the world’s face masks. Due to the rapid spread of the infection in China, their exports were halted. This greatly affected availability across the world as the infection continues to spread and demand for protective gear continues to skyrocket. The shortage can also be attributed to panic buying, stockpiling, and misuse of the protective equipment. As a result, healthcare workers have been forced to improvise by using snorkel masks, swim goggles, and plastic trash bags instead in attempts to protect themselves.
With the transmission of the disease slowing down in China, production of PPE in the country has resumed and it has been increasingly shipped to other countries. Yet, the World Health Organization states that manufacturing of PPE needs to increase by 40 per cent to be able to meet rising global demands.
Without adequate protective equipment, the medical workforce will be decimated. If we fail to get adequate protection for our frontline workers, who will then be left to look after our patients?