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WHO Insists On safety of Medics

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on stake holders 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 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 programmes 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 work place 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.


Kenyas’s health   Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Rashid Aman said that the government continues to place extreme importance on protection of health care workers since when healthcare workers are at risk, we are all at risk.

Currently over 300 health care workers in Kenya have tested positive for COVID 19.

WHO has also recently highlighted an alarming rise in reports of verbal harassment, discrimination and physical violence among health workers in the wake of COVID-19.

On World Patient Safety Day, considering that thousands of health workers infected with COVID-19 have lost their lives worldwide, WHO reminds governments that they have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of health workers.

WHO has highlighted 5 steps to improve health worker safety and patient safety  through  establishing synergies between health worker safety and patient safety policies and strategies,  develop and implement national programmes for occupational health and safety of health workers , Protect health workers from violence in the workplace ,Improve mental health and psychological well-being and also Protect health workers from physical and biological hazards

In addition to the Health Worker Safety Charter, WHO has also outlined specific World Patient Safety Day 2020 Goals for health care leaders to invest in, measure, and improve health worker safety over the next year.

The goals are intended for health care facilities to address five areas:  preventing sharps injuries; reducing work-related stress and burnout; improving the use of personal protective equipment; promoting zero tolerance to violence against health workers; and analyzing serious safety related incidents.


By Wangari Ndirangu

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