The World Health Organization and its partners have issued an urgent call for concrete action to better protect healthcare workers and caregivers around the world from COVID-19 and other health issues.
Organizations are concerned that large numbers of healthcare and care workers have died from COVID-19, but also that a growing proportion of the workforce is suffering from burnout, stress, anxiety and fatigue.
In a joint statement released this week, WHO and partners call on all member state governments and stakeholders to strengthen surveillance and reporting of COVID-19 infections, health issues and deaths among health workers. health and care. They should also include a breakdown by age, sex and occupation as a standard procedure, to enable policymakers and scientists to identify and implement mitigation measures that will further reduce the risk of infections and disease problems. health.
The declaration also urges political leaders and policymakers to do everything in their power to make regulatory, policy and investment decisions that ensure the protection of health and care workers. He highlights the desirability of aligning this with an upcoming global compact on health and care workers and the International Labor Organization’s call for a human-centered recovery from the COVID crisis -19.
Finally, the partners call on leaders and policy makers to ensure equitable access to vaccines so that health and care workers have priority in adopting COVID-19 vaccinations. Available data from 119 countries suggests that as of September 2021, 2 in 5 health and care workers were on average fully immunized, with considerable differences across regions and economic groups. Less than one in ten people have been fully immunized in Africa and the Western Pacific regions, while 22 countries, mostly high-income, reported that more than 80% of their health and care workers are fully vaccinated. A few large high-income countries have yet to report data to WHO.
We have a moral obligation to protect all health and care workers, guarantee their rights and provide them with decent work in a safe and supportive work environment. This should include access to vaccines. Beyond vaccines , economic recovery and all new investments in emergency preparedness and response must prioritize the education and employment of health and care workers, in conjunction with the Secretary-General of the ‘UN Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection. “
Jim Campbell, Director, WHO Health Workforce Department
A new WHO working paper estimates that between 80,000 and 180,000 health and care workers could have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021, converging to an average scenario of 115,500 deaths. These estimates are derived from the 3.45 million COVID-19-related deaths reported to WHO in May 2021; a number in itself considered to be much lower than the actual number of deaths (60% or more than what is reported to the WHO).
“This WHO working paper provides a striking figure to spur more action; we cannot afford to lose more health and care workforce and our world will not recover from the pandemic without long-term sustainable investments in health workforce“said Catherine Duggan, Executive Director of the International Pharmaceutical Federation and one of the many members of the Global Health Professions Alliance allied to the joint statement.
WHO is currently leading efforts to develop a global agreement on health and care workers, based on existing legal instruments, conventions and resolutions. The Compact aims to provide Member States, stakeholders and institutions with comprehensive guidance on their existing obligations to protect health and care workers, protect their rights and promote and ensure decent work, free from discrimination on the basis of on sex, race and any other form of discrimination. The guidelines will be presented at 75e World Health Assembly in May 2022.
The World Health Organization