WHO insists on safety of medics

Source KNA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on stakeholders in the health sector to guarantee the safety of medics and patients in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to fore the vital role health workers play to relieve the suffering and safe lives of the infected patients.

“No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe and WHO’s Health Worker Safety Charter released today would be a step towards ensuring that health workers have the safe working the conditions, the training, the pay, and the respect they deserve, “, he said

In a press release today by the WHO, the Charter released for World Patient Safety Day has called on governments and those running health services at local levels to take five actions to better protect health workers.

These include steps to protect health workers from violence; to improve their mental health; to protect them from physical and biological hazards; to advance national programs for health worker safety; and to connect health worker safety policies to existing patient safety policies.

Dr Tedros explained that the pandemic has also highlighted the extent to which protecting health workers is key to ensuring a functioning health system and a functioning society.

COVID-19 has exposed health workers and their families to unprecedented levels of risk the WHO boss said noting that although not representative, data from many countries across WHO regions indicate that COVID-19 infections among health workers are far greater than those in the general population.

“While health workers represent less than 3 percent of the population in the large majority of countries and less than 2 percent in almost all low- and middle-income countries, around 14 percent of COVID-19 cases reported to WHO are among health workers”, he noted.

In some countries, the Director-General said that the proportion can be as high as 35 percent, however, data availability and quality are limited, and it is not possible to establish whether health workers were infected in the workplace or in community settings.

In addition to physical risks, Dr. Tedro said that the pandemic has placed extraordinary levels of psychological stress on health workers exposed to high-demand settings for long hours, living in constant fear of disease exposure while separated from family and facing social stigmatization.

According to WHO, before COVID-19 hit, medical professionals were already at higher risk of suicide in all parts of the world and a recent review of health care professionals found one in four reported depression and anxiety, and one in three suffered insomnia during COVID-19.