Health Care Workers at Risk

A nurse explains about the virus during a Covid-19 awareness event at a government hospital in Siliguri, Bengal.
Photo: Diptendu Dutta, AFP. Source: The Conversation

The pandemic is seeing an increasing  number health care workers getting infected. The lack of adequate protection measures for health care workers, including sanitation and other frontline personnel tasked with treating patients with COVID19  and cleaning premises of health facilities and other public spaces, places them at significant risk of contracting the virus. Given that the health system and health workforce is the centre-point of any efforts at containment and management of COVID-19, the lack of necessary equipment and measures to ensure the protection of health care workers is extremely concerning. This is likely to pose barriers to health workers in their role of providing necessary intervention in the context of COVID. This has placed lakhs of health workers at risk of infection as well as of harm, violence, discrimination consequent to the perception of health workers as potential sources of infection. Doctors across India have been demanding PPE to go ahead with their work uninterrupted.

in the form of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is preventing health workers to make effective. Nurses have been staging protests demanding PPE, highlighting the gravity of the issue. Providing health care workers with the necessary PPE, training, safe transportation facility, nutritious food and a safe workplace, along with steps to mitigate any fear regarding the safety and health of their  families is urgent.

The protection of the health care workers at all levels of the health system, a substantial number of whom are women, and contractual workers, is imperative. In the absence of PPEs and other measures towards this, the health care workers will be at higher risk of the infection, which in turn is likely to  decrease the capacity of the health system, including the public and private health care sector, from fulfilling its role in effectively intervening in the current pandemic.

 Sama expresses concern  about the unprecedented delay, inadequate PPEs and other measures for the safety of the health care workers and demands urgent steps to address this.

The Statement On the Personal Protection Equipment for Healthcare Workers in the Light of Increasing Numbers of COVID-19 Patients by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and All India People’s Science Network details these concerns and demands.

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