WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have published a new guide on developing and implementing stronger occupational health and safety programs for health workers, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to exert great pressure on them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken an additional heavy toll on health workers and proved dangerous neglect of their health, safety and wellbeing.
More than one-in-three health facilities lack hygiene stations at the point of care. Fewer than one-in-six countries had in place a national policy on a healthy and safe working environment in the health sector.
“Sickness absence and exhaustion exacerbated pre-existing shortages of health workers and undermined the capacities of health systems to respond to the increased demand for care and prevention during the crisis,” said James Campbell, Director of WHO Health Workforce Department.
“Covid-19 has exposed the cost of this systemic lack of safeguards for the health, safety and wellbeing of health workers. In the first 18 months of the pandemic, about 115,500 health workers died from COVID-19,” he stated.
“Effective mechanisms should be put in place to ensure continuous collaboration between employers, managers and health workers, with the aim of protecting health and safety at work” said Alette van Leur, Director, ILO Sectoral Policies Department. “Health workers, like all other workers, should enjoy their right to decent work, safe and healthy working environments and social protection for health care, sickness absence and occupational diseases and injuries.”
Countries that have developed and are actively implementing occupational health and safety programmes for health workers have experienced reductions in work-related injuries and diseases and sickness absence, as well as improvements in the work environment, work productivity and retention of health workers. mh/pll/mem/ifs