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Healthcare workers have emerged as a vulnerable population group during COVID-19, and securing supply chains of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been identified as a critical issue to protect healthcare workers and to prevent health system overwhelm. While securing PPE is a complex logistical challenge facing many countries, it is vital to recognise the social and health systems issues that structure the differential degrees of risk faced by various subgroups of healthcare workers. As an illustrative case study, the author identifies two key social factors that are likely to face the degrees of risk faced by midwives in the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, if and when COVID-19 takes hold in Indonesia. Healthcare workers in both high and low resource-settings globally are likely to face particular risks and vulnerabilities that are shaped by localized social and health systems factors. Qualitative social and health systems research can and should be utilized proactively in order to protect healthcare workers, to inform more equitable program design, and to create a foundation for health equity within the future of global health that emerges from the pandemic.
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