Cancel the debt so doctors and nurses can keep saving lives

by Oxfam Canada | April 14, 2020
Background media: A health care worker in a protective mask and hair cover and scrubs and gown looks at the camera.

This open letter is a call for urgent action from doctors and nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are all health workers, nurses, doctors. Every day we are on the front lines fighting this virus. Every day we are on the wards, in the emergency rooms. Every day we see first-hand the suffering this sickness is causing.
Many of us lack the vital protective equipment that stops us getting infected, and stops others getting infected too. This is dangerous, exhausting work.

Even the best public healthcare systems in the world are struggling to face this virus. Yet we know it is the countries with healthcare that is universal, and publicly provided, that will be best placed to get through this. Yet in most countries, health services are desperately weak and deeply unequal. You can only get treatment if you have money.

This is a global public health emergency bigger than anything humanity has ever seen. Governments all over the world must make a huge investment in scaling up public healthcare now for all their people. Healthcare is a right and should be free.

Rich nations should help pay for this by immediately canceling the debt payments of developing countries. This will release billions of dollars that can pay for vital healthcare. Many governments are currently spending far more on repaying debts than they do on health. To prevent millions of deaths this injustice has to end now.

We call on the leaders of the world to act now. Act now to make healthcare available free to all who need it. Act now to cancel the debts of developing countries before it is too late.


Dr. Haifaa Awad, Denmark,
Dr. Rúbia Dara Belizário, Brazil
Physician’s Assistant, Charles Duah, Ghana
Dr. Rob Hadman, UK
Dr. Clara Hernando, Spain
Dr. Sarah A. Johnson, United States
Nurse, Fela Kumambala, Malawi
Dr. Norman Matara, Zimbabwe
Dr. Michelle Musoga, Kenya
Dr. Fortune Nyamande, Zimbabwe
Dr. Javier Gómez Pavón, Spain
Nurse, Karess River, Philippines

Share this page: