Coronavirus: German doctors hold 'naked protest' over PPE shortages
During the protest, the doctors posed taking cover behind files, toilet roles, medical equipment and prescription blocks and claimed their calls for help over several months had gone unheeded.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic which has so far killed at least 210,000 people across the globe, doctors and nurses are working tirelessly to put an end to the global health crisis. But lack of protective clothing and equipment puts them at the highest risk of getting infected and there are several reports of medical professionals dying from the virus due to shortages of filter masks, gloves and other protective equipment.
Recently, a group of German doctors posed naked in an attempt to draw attention to the PPE crisis they are facing. Calling their protest Blanke Bedenken, or Naked Qualms, members of the group said they felt at risk from coronavirus and claimed their calls for help over several months had gone unheeded.
Ruben Bernau, a GP in the group, told Ärztezeitung (a German newspaper for physicians and other medical professionals) that he and his practice team are insufficiently equipped to deal with the virus.
“The nudity is a symbol of how vulnerable we are without protection,” he said.
During the protest, the doctors posed taking cover behind files, toilet roles, medical equipment and prescription blocks.
Christian Rechtenwald, who also has a GP practice, told the newspaper that the group had been inspired by the actions of a French doctor, Alain Colombié, who was photographed naked in his practice after describing himself and fellow doctors as “cannon fodder” in the fight against the pandemic.
Jana Husemann, another GP, said: “Of course we want to continue treating patients who still need to receive a close examination.” For that she required proper PPE, she said.
One doctor said she was “trained to sew up wounds” and asked: “Why am I now having to sew my own face mask?”
Germany has so far been unable to meet PPE demands of its doctors despite their repeated calls since late January when the virus was reported in the country.
German medical staff has also reported widespread theft of disinfectant and masks from hospitals, for which police have blamed organised criminal gangs.
A recent study by an association of German health insurers found that doctors were lacking more than 100 million single-use masks, almost 50 million filter masks, more than 60 million single-use aprons, and a similar number of disposable gloves.
On its Twitter feed @BlankeBedenken, the protest group said Germany had claimed to be well resourced in its coronavirus fight.
“But the protective clothing, disinfectant and single-use masks were soon not to be had. Despite their concerns about they and their patients being insufficiently protected against contracting the virus, across the country GPs and their teams are caring for people.”