The World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization have released a guide for developing and implementing safer occupational health and safety programs. The WHO released a statement saying that the agencies had recommended programs at all levels of government, including the sub-national, national, and health facility levels. All programs should cover infectious, psychological, and chemical occupational hazards.
This guide also outlines the roles of employers, workers, and occupational health services in protecting the safety, health, and well-being of health workers.
It emphasizes continuous investment, training and monitoring, as well as collaboration.
The WHO noted that these types of programs are often implemented in countries with a reduced incidence of a work-related injury, sickness absence, and improved work environments.
Additionally, productivity at work has increased and the retention of health workers has been higher.
The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing for the third consecutive year. Many burned-out health workers have quit their jobs.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced through the Health Resources and Services Administration that $103 million would be awarded by the Biden administration to address critical staffing issues and burnout.
Through three programs, the funds were distributed to 45 grantees. They were also secured through the administration’s American Rescue Plan.
The WHO estimates that more than one-third of health facilities do not have hygiene stations at the point where they provide care. In addition, less than one-sixth of countries have a national policy to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for the sector.
COVID-19 has shown the costs of this systemic failure to provide safeguards for the safety, health and well-being of health workers. James Campbell, WHO Health Workforce Department director, stated that COVID-19 was responsible for the deaths of approximately 115,500 health workers in the first 18 months.
He said that the guide provides suggestions on how to use this experience to better protect health workers.