EHS-COVID (522) New WHO/ILO guide urges greater safeguards to protect health workers

27 February, 2022

Extracts below from a news release on the WHO website, and a comment from me. Read online:


The World Health Organization (WHO) and The International Labour Organization (ILO) have published a new guide on developing and implementing stronger occupational health and safety programmes for health workers, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert great pressure on them...

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an additional heavy toll on health workers and demonstrated dangerous neglect of their health, safety and wellbeing. More than one-in-three health facilities lack hygiene stations at the point of care. Fewer than one-in-six countries had in place a national policy on a healthy and safe working environment in the health sector.

“COVID-19 has exposed the cost of this systemic lack of safeguards for the health, safety and wellbeing of health workers. In the first 18 months of the pandemic, about 115,500 health workers died from COVID-19,” said James Campbell, Director WHO Health Workforce Department. “Sickness absence and exhaustion exacerbated pre-existing shortages of health workers and undermined the capacities of health systems to respond to the increased demand for care and prevention during the crisis,” he added. “This guide provides recommendations on how to learn from this experience and better protect our health workers.”


'The purpose of this document is to present the key elements of occupational health and safety programmes for health workers at the national, subnational and facility levels, and to provide guidance on the development and implementation of such programmes.'

Best wishes, Neil

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CHIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is global coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. HIFA brings stakeholders together to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information.

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