Health workers are paying a heavy price while caring for patients infected with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
“Globally, around 14% of COVID-19 cases reported to WHO are among health workers, and in some countries it’s as much as 35%,” the WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at his regular press conference from Geneva.
He said the data remain limited and it is hard to know whether health workers are infected in their workplaces or communities.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in addition to getting expose to COVID-19, every day, health workers are exposed to stress, burnout, stigma, discrimination and even violence.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and save lives. 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,” Dr Tedros said while announcing that the WHO is launching a charter on health worker safety to mark World Patient Safety Day.
He invited all countries, hospitals, clinics and partners to endorse and implement the initiative, saying that 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,” Dr. Tedros added.