WHO releases charter for health workers’ safety

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 18, 2020 Published on September 18, 2020

Around 14% of the Covid cases reported to the WHO are of health workers, says WHO chief

The World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a webinar that around 14 per cent of Covid-19 cases reported to the WHO are of health workers.

Tedros spoke at the webinar on Thursday to launch a charter on health worker safety.

The WHO Director-General said: “One of the keys to keeping patients safe is keeping health workers safe. Now more than ever, we have a duty to give health workers the safe working conditions, the training, the pay, and the respect they deserve.”

Limited data

He added that the WHO has limited data and it is still difficult to calculate how many health workers suffered fatalities while serving amidst the pandemic. It is a reminder of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and save lives, said Tedros.

“We all owe health workers an enormous debt — not just because they have cared for the sick. But because they risk their own lives in the line of duty. It's not just the risk of infection. Every day, health workers are exposed to stress, burnout, stigma, discrimination, and even violence,” said the WHO chief.

The charter asked member countries to ensure the safety of health workers, develop national occupational health and safety programmes for health workers, and to protect against workplace violence.

“Making sure health workers are safe, protected, and well-prepared also protects the people they serve,” Tedros added.

Speaking at the webinar, Dr Edward Kelley, WHO director of Service Delivery and Safety, said in an official statement that the Covid-19 pandemic had not created new problems, but had “shone a light” on some of them and that health worker safety as part of patient safety is a key one in that.

“In 2019, there were over 1,000 confirmed attacks on healthcare workers,” said Kelley.

“These are the types of issues that governments should also be concerned with, and they should also address,” he added.

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Published on September 18, 2020
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