The World Health Organisation released a charter on Thursday urging governments and health authorities to better protect health workers. “No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe,” says the WHO’s Health Worker Safety Charter.
September 17 is observed annually as World Patient Safety Day to ensure that health workers have safe working conditions, training, pay and respect, WHO said in a statement.
The charter urges governments and those running health services at local levels to take five actions to better protect health workers: steps to protect health workers from violence, improve their mental health, protect them from physical and biological hazards, advance national programmes for health worker safety and connect health worker safety policies to existing patient safety policies.
Data from many countries across WHO regions indicates that Covid-19 infections among health workers are far greater than those in the general population.
According to the Indian Medical Association, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s statement in Parliament acknowledges the contribution of healthcare workers during the pandemic. “However, it conceals the morbidity and mortality of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. This indifference to the sacrifice of doctors and healthcare workers is the reality of Covid-19,” Dr R V Asokan, secretary general of IMA, said in a statement.
No country has lost as many doctors and healthcare workers as India has to the pandemic, the IMA said. Doctors suffer four times the mortality of ordinary citizens and private practitioners eight times as much, said Dr Rajan Sharma, president of IMA. The IMA said they should be given the status of martyrs and has submitted a list of at least 382 doctors who died from Covid-19 across the country.
The pandemic has also placed very high levels of psychological stress on health workers exposed to high-demand settings over long hours, living in constant fear of disease exposure while separated from family and facing social stigmatisation, experts said. A review of healthcare professionals found that one in four have reported depression and anxiety and one in three have suffered insomnia during the pandemic, a WHO statement said. “There was an alarming rise in reports of verbal harassment, discrimination and physical violence among health workers in the wake of Covid-19,” WHO has said.
A letter to coronavirus by Dr Mohan Agashe
Dr Mohan Agashe, noted actor and director, has written a letter “to Covid-19”, saying that “the uninvited guest has stayed too long”. “I never considered Covid-19 as an enemy or declared war. In fact, though uninvited, we treated you as a guest…Let me live my life without you,” Agashe said in the letter posted on social media. In some Facebook posts, Agashe has “urged Covid-19 to learn to live its own life without getting attached to any person”. “Despite the long stay, this global emissary of nature sent to negotiate a symbiotic coexistence – has taken a large toll and refuses to leave,” Agashe said.
He told The Indian Express that such was the fear that when he wrote on Facebook “My post was for Covid-19 – my current partner”, he got a flurry of messages urging him a speedy recovery. “I have tested negative for Covid-19 and now clearly the message for this uninvited guest is to leave,” Agashe said.
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