WHO released a health worker charter on September 17, 2020 that calls on governments and health care leaders to address threats to health care professionals during the coronavirus pandemic.
The charter was announced on the second annual World Patient Safety Day. The theme for this year was health worker safety, set with the intention of motivating those in charge of health services on a local and national level to take five specific actions to improve the protection of health workers who interact with COVID-19 patients.
The first of the recommended steps is the establishment of synergies between health worker safety and patient safety policies and strategies. Developing and implementing national programs for occupational health and safety of health workers, protecting health workers from violence in the workplace, improving mental health and psychological wellbeing and protecting health workers from physical and biological hazards are also suggested.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and save lives,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “WHO’s Health Worker Safety Charter is a step towards ensuring that health workers have the safe working conditions, the training, the pay and the respect they deserve.”
Health care workers are at high risk for not only contracting the virus, but encountering psychological stress in the form of depression, anxiety and insomnia due to the pandemic according to a review by Science Direct.