GENEVA: World Health Organisation (WHO) has called out governments and health care leaders to ensure the safety of health workers and patients. The statement has come at a crucial time as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has published a list of around 382 doctors who succumbed to COVID-19 in India.
COVID-19 pandemic has put the health workers and their families at a great risk. According to data from different countries, health workers and their families have a higher percentage of infection than the general population. Health workers consist of 3 per cent of the total population in a majority of the countries and around 2 per cent in low and middle income countries. However, around 14 per cent of the reported cases are those of health workers and this data can be as high as 35 per cent in some countries.
Besides this, they are also subjected to a lot of mental pressure and thousands of COVID-19 workers have lost their lives across the world due to this. According to WHO, before the occurrence of COVID-19 pandemic, there were already a high number of suicides among health workers. Around one in every four health worker suffers from depression and anxiety and almost one in every three reported insomnia during COVID-19, according to a recent review of health care professionals. WHO has also highlighted the alarming rise in the cases of verbal harassment, discrimination and violence among health care professionals.
A charter was released on World Patient Safety Day, where WHO has extensively recommended various steps that can be taken to improve these numbers. The steps recommended by WHO are as follows:
- Develop synergy between health worker safety policies and existing patient health policies and strategies.
- Design and implement national-level policies for occupational health and safety of health workers.
- Protect health workers from violence in the workplace.
- Improve mental health and psychological well-being.
- Protect them from physical and biological hazards.