Healthcare workers have a moral obligation to care for COVID-19 patients

Man is so strong to conquer the distant planets, but so weak to be wrecked by the Nano particle. Corona Virus, COVID-19 appeared on the earth from the sky and attacked the mankind like the historical plagues. The year 2020 became the survival challenge for the humanity. The mighty superpowers have no option but to surrender in front of COVID-19. The particle that is unable to reproduce and survive on its own without a medium has endangered the humankind. Human arrogance and pride have fallen to ground like a cut tree by a woodcutter. This controversial situation in the world has given rise to many moral questions. One of the obvious and fundamental ones is the question of care of the COVID-19 patients by the healthcare workers. (Duffield C.M., 2014)
Do doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers have moral obligation to treat and cure the patients even risking their own health and life during this pandemic? This is one of the questions being debated in the world as the health care workers are facing challenges to their health and life while tending to the corona virus patients. There are number of ethical concerns associated with COVID-19 pandemic related to healthcare worker’s safety. As they are concerned about their own health that if they get infected it can result in the infection of patients, co-workers as well as their own family that makes them anxious about it (Greenberg N., 2020). Leading these fears with their ethical sense of duty to patients and their society, and their sense of harmony with fellow workers put them in a difficult situation. Supervision of the patient is a legal and ethical responsibility of an HCW. Pushing their responsibility aside can cause the patient to suffer and an HCW are to be answerable for this behavior. Ethical behavior or responsibility is having to do what is right for the patient. Healthcare professionals have code of ethics witch the executioner has to stick with. Mistreating and Healthcare fraud is an example of unethical behavior. (Greenberg N., 2020)

Till the present moment, more than 100,000 healthcare workers have been infected by corona virus in United States alone and more than 500 have died from this devastating pandemic. The centers for disease control and prevention estimate that healthcare workers are 11 to 16% exposed to COVID-19 attack during this wave of pandemic. To answer such a critical and controversial question, we have to define and clarify the ethical, professional, and moral duties of health care workers during the pandemic, a war, or any hazardous calamity. When students are graduated and enter the medical profession as doctors or any other healthcare worker, they take an oath to help the patients at any cost. But it does not mean that the healthcare workers should risk and sacrifice their health and lives in caring for the patients.
There are some controversial viewpoints on the responsibilities and moral obligation of the healthcare workers during a pandemic. Some take the position that the healthcare workers, who deny to work during a pandemic, should be suspended from the jobs and even their license should be canceled too. This philosophy believes that medicine is a sacred humanitarian profession that demands to care and treat the patients under all the conditions. By entering into this profession, the doctors, nurses, and all other healthcare workers have agreed to face all the dangers and challenges during the service of the sick humanity.
The United Kingdom’s General Medical Council has similar view. According to it, the physicians have a moral duty to provide urgent medical care and facilities to the patients during a pandemic, even when there is a significant risk to their health in doing so. The American Medical Association takes the other position. This association asserts that the healthcare workers have moral obligation to provide urgent care and treatment to the COVID-19 patients even when they have risk to their own health and life. However, this opinion also recognizes that if the risk to a physician’s health is too dangerous, then he/she can avoid treating COVID-19 patients because doing so will affect his ability to treat the patients in the future (Kim M.-S., 2014). The American Nurses Association also presents the same viewpoint that nurses must decide that how much risk they can withstand during this pandemic. They may refrain from treating the patients when they feel unwell physically, or when the personal protective equipment (PPE) is not available. Obviously, a country would not send his cops in the battlefield without the guns and other supplies. In the same way, a country cannot order his healthcare workers to cope with this kind of pandemic without providing them personal protective equipment kits and other crucial materials like masks, gloves, and essential outfits. (Kim M.-S., 2014)
Moreover, the specialty of a physician also defines his responsibilities and duties. For instance, a physician who has a specialization in treating the infectious melodies cannot refuse to treat the patients of such pandemic in the emergency conditions. He has moral as well as professional obligation to treat the COVID-19 patients. However, the balance should be maintained between the professional responsibilities and the social responsibilities as a husband, wife, father or mother. The effect of your professional doings on your family members is not acceptable. The healthcare Association is formulated to save the humanity from the sudden calamities, not to force them to become infected with these types of pandemic. (Kim M.-S., 2014)

Now, Governments are being inquired about the parameters regarding the safety and well-being of the healthcare workers. It is the first and foremost duty of a government to provide the proper protective supplies to the healthcare workers. They should be well aware with the causes, symptoms, factors and precautionary measures of the pandemic, COVID-19. The safety and survival of the healthcare staff is crucial in coping with this kind of pandemic. The reason is that they are an important asset in fighting against a pandemic. They are the front-line fighters, who risk their lives to save the lives of humanity. They embrace the dangers and calamities in the way to care and serve the sick people. It is certain that they should also be provided with their own protective measures. They should not be decreed to enter the battleground without their own survival equipment. After providing the necessary measures and equipment for the safety of the healthcare workers, it becomes their moral obligation to deal the patients with diligence and proper caution.

Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , which most countries have adopted, everyone has the right “to the highest level of physical and mental health”. Governments are obliged to adopt concrete measures for the “prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, professional and other diseases”. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors states’ compliance with the Covenant’s obligations, determined that:
The right to health is closely related and dependent on respect for other human rights, contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights to food, housing, work, education, human dignity, life, non-discrimination, equality, the prohibition of torture, privacy, access to information, and the freedoms of association, assembly and movement. These and other rights and freedoms guide integral elements of the right to health.
The right to health requires that health equipment, goods and services are:
• available in sufficient quantity,
• accessible to all without discrimination, including for marginalized groups,
• acceptable, in the sense that they must respect medical ethics and be culturally appropriate, and
• scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality.

The COVID-19 patients should not be allowed to die alone in the isolation. They should be provided with the proper medical facilities and treatment. In medical field, the respect of the patient means the availability of appropriate medical facilities and on time checkups and medication. In this unpredictable situation, we have seen many retired health professional workers to be active for the service of the humanity. They have volunteered in their moral obligation to provide the humanity service with their care, treatment and well-being. The patients of COVID-19 are in a helpless condition and need the care and support of the healthcare workers. So, it is mandatory to the workers to deal the patients with compassion and provide them with the proper medication. (J.Z., 2020)

The healthcare professionals have moral, social and psychological responsibilities in addition to the professional ones. The patients need physical, physiological, psychological, and mental support for the rapid growth and recovery. It has been seen that patients with the psychological assistance recover faster than those who don’t get the emotional help. Moreover, the healthcare workers are accountable to the proper and diligent efforts for the betterment of the patients especially during the attack of a pandemic. They should not refuse to accomplish their sacred duty at any cost. In short, the healthcare professionals have right to avail their own safety and survival first and then they have a moral obligation to serve the needy and sick humanity in the emergency conditions, from which they should not refrain at any cost. It is the most important and basic need of humans to serve and contribute others. And healthcare workers have a God-given chance to fulfill and satisfy their need especially in the case of emergency like attack of COVID-19. (J.Z., 2020)
It is important, when we think of ethical principles, to anchor dignity as a principle of assistance in our daily lives, and not just as a theoretical concept. Ethics in patient care underlies our roles and responsibilities towards him. When we rethink about the “how” we are taking care of and the consequences of our actions on patients, we begin to value all our actions, from the smallest to the greatest actions. Ethics in relationships is also fundamental, mainly because through them we can both discover who we really are and remake what we are.

Duffield C.M., R. M. H. C. B. J. D. S., 2014. A comparative review of nurse turnover rates and costs across countries. J. Adv. Nurs.
Greenberg N., D. M. G. S. W. S., 2020. Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during covid-19 pandemic. BMJ.
J.Z., A., 2020. Mental health needs of health care workers providing frontline COVID-19 care.. JAMA Health Forum.
Kim M.-S., K. T. L. D. Y. J. H. Y.-C. L. S.-Y. Y. J.-H. K. M.-Y., 2014. Mental disorders among workers in the healthcare industry:. National health insurance data. Ann. Occup. Environ. .

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