Violation of rights in Belgian nursing homes

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Between March 11 and October 23, they died in the nursing homes of Belgium a total of 6,467 patients and elderly which represents 61.3% of all deaths from coronavirus in a country with a population of 11.5 million people. A report published this Monday by the organization International Amnesty, after the investigation carried out in Belgium in relation to the first outbreak of the pandemic, denounces the “abandonment” they suffered and the violation of their basic human rights.

“Two thirds of all the people killed by covid-19 in Belgium were residents of nursing homes and most of them they died in the residences and not in the hospital. Due to the failure of governments, many of these people, and others died from causes other than covid-19 during the same period, they were deprived of a dignified death “, Amnesty International denounces that the “inability of the state” to remedy structural failures in the health care sector has contributed to aggravating the impact of the epidemic.

Specifically, the report denounces that the public authorities, although they were aware of the risks that these infrastructures faced, did not put into operation “quick and sufficient measures” to protect the rights of residents and structures and that it was not until much later that circulars were issued on the transfer of patients from nursing homes to hospitals. “Many people felt abandoned”, concludes Amnesty International pointing to a violation of the right to health, life and non-discrimination.

Premature deaths

The investigation also concludes that at the beginning of the pandemic, centers for the elderly were overloaded with additional tasks, which usually fall into the hands of hospitals, and that they had to operate with “regrettably insufficient” personnel, means and funds. The report mentions the lack of personal protective equipment and the covid-19 test for health personnel, which would have allowed the virus to “spread” in many nursing homes.

To this is added the refusal to transfer the elderly to hospitals. “According to Doctors without Borders, only 57% of serious cases could be transferred to the hospital during the crisis compared to the previous 86%,” says the report that also denounces that “some older people probably died prematurely due to this situation” says the document that coincides with an increase in complaints.

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