As the world commemorate this year’s World Patient Safety Day (WPSD), the International Trade Union Confederation Africa has urged member states to prioritise the healthy and wellbeing of health workers in the region.
General Secretary of the Africa regional trade organisation, Comrade Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, said this in a statement.
He said despite the COVID-19 challenges, health workers continued to make sacrifices, heroics and dedication to saving lives whilst endangering themselves.
Comrade Adu-Amankwah further said the World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledged that COVID-19 pandemic had unveiled the huge challenges and risks health workers faced globally, including healthcare-associated infections, violence, stigma, psychological and emotional disturbances, illness and even death.
He said “despite these challenges, health care workers have continued to put their skills, services, safety and wellbeing, as well as making the necessary and hard sacrifices in national and global efforts to contain and defeat the coronavirus pandemic.
The ITUC-Africa general secretary applauded health workers for their efforts and sacrifices at contributing to the successful treatment of millions of COVID-19 infected patients.
On this year’s WPSD, the group directed her 110 affiliate members in 52 of the 54 African countries to join the World Health Organisation and other local, national and international stakeholders to commemorate event slated for 17 September 2020.
Speaking on the theme “Health Workers Safety: Priority for Patient Safety”, Comrade Adu-Amankwah said it was apt, “considering that the event will be dedicated to the gallant healthcare workers who (and the other workers) are the heroes and heroines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“In Africa, hundreds of healthcare workers and other essential services workers have contracted the virus and scores have succumbed to the virus. This commemoration is another occasion to appreciate and celebrate their services, sacrifices, heroics and dedication to saving lives whilst putting them in harms’ way,” the statement said.
Also speaking, ITUC-Africa Deputy General Secretary Comrade Akhator Joel Odigie said COVID-19 had further confirmed healthy and well-motivated health workers as critical to patients’ safety.
“We have seen and continued to see the tireless efforts that health workers are investing in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These efforts are responsible for the huge number of recovered cases of patients infected with the virus. We have also witnessed the selfless advocacy of health workers and their trade union organisations calling for the urgent and broad improvement in healthcare delivery systems and management so that more persons, especially indigent ones can have better and easier access to healthcare.
“Therefore, we must all stand up for the safety of health workers since we know that it in our self-enlightened interest to do so,” Odigie said.
Speaking on the need for genuine, urgent and steady social investment on public healthcare delivery provisions, he said “since health is wealth, it is, therefore, an economic sense to consciously invest in the training, wellbeing and motivation of health workers who make it possible for people to be and stay healthy and to be able to contribute to economic production activities.
“As we continue to fight against COVID-19 and planning our recovery strategies, the public healthcare sector must be a top priority and healthcare workers must enjoy rich consideration.
“This is because we have noticed that working in stressful environments makes health workers more prone to errors which can lead to patient harm.
“The many indigent persons who are unable to access and enjoy affordable healthcare, especially those excluded by privatisation arrangements are more exposed to harm and must be protected in line with the prescriptions of the health workers and their trade unions.
“The unions are calling for a better planned public healthcare system with adequate infrastructure and facilities. Public health is a human right and must be respected and guaranteed.”