• Melo Acuna

Nurses and other health workers safety need to be guaranteed

Nurses deserve praise, thanks and protection amid COVID-19

MANILA – Nurses and other health care providers on the frontlines against COVID-19 should be recognized and commended for their sacrifice and dedication as medical risks have continued to increase and, in some instances, they are ostracized, harassed and attacked.

In a statement from Geneva, the International Council of Nurses and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said they are jointly celebrating International Nurses Day today, to acclaim nurses worldwide, and in particular those attending to unexpected workload by treating COVID-19 patients while maintaining other important health services.

Against a backdrop of many communities acknowledging health professionals, in some other locations, both international organizations expressed concern as reports of harassment and violence against nurses and other healthcare personnel linked to the COVID-19 response, including in public transportation and at health workers’ own homes.

“Nurses are the world’s life-savers. They are risking their own health and too often sacrificing time with their family to help those suffering from COVID-19,” said Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He added it is heartening to see many communities praise and thank nurses, but distressing to learn other nurses are harassed, stigmatized and even attacked.

“The safety of health care workers during this pandemic is crucial for communities to overcome the disease. They not only save people from COVID-19, they also ensure the continuity of life saving health services to protect people from accidents and other illnesses,” according to Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He added they are concerned that the pandemic is putting pressure on medical staff and health systems to a breaking point, especially in vulnerable and fragile settings.

Meanwhile, International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy said stigmatization and violence against nurses and other health workers in some countries are shocking, the only response ought to be zero-tolerance.

“The pandemic has seen frontline nurses rightly recognized as heroes, but they are also ordinary mothers and fathers with their own families to protect. They deserve to be able to work free from fear, whether because of a lack of PPE or because of harassment and attack,” Ms. Kennedy added.

Both organizations called for the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment or PPE as it is the key to protecting the health of medical workers.

In countries hardest hit by the contagion, where health care systems are functioning relatively well, about 10 percent of health care workers have been infected with COVID-19, a huge number of people that may well be an underestimation. This percentage could be higher in areas with healthcare systems have been affected conflict or lack of investment.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health have listed 759 nurses, 631 physicians, 129 nursing aides, 72 medical technologists, 39 radiologic technicians and 209 other health personnel have been found COVID-19 positive. (Melo M. Acuña)

Department of Health Central Office. (Melo M. Acuna/File Photo)

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