On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern following the COVID-19 epidemic. The consequences of epidemics are numerous, both for patients and for health personnel.
The COVID-19 epidemic has imposed organizational changes and an overall increase in the workload for medical and paramedical personnel. Until today, there are many risks faced by these heroes.They take care of the infected but for them to be effective in this care, they must be in good health, especially mentally.
Health workers and systems continue to play a critical role in the global fight against COVID-19, and special measures must be taken to support and protect them. Healthcare workers around the world are on the front lines of the daily struggle to stem the spread of the virus and save lives. The images of these exhausted workers fighting to save patients have touched the world. The occupational health and safety of nursing staff is essential to enable them to perform their work in this time of crisis. Their protection must be a priority.
It is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety and health of nursing staff. All information regarding the transmission of the virus should be communicated to healthcare workers as widely and quickly as possible, especially information relating to the most recent guidelines as well as measures to be taken to prevent contagion and their implementation.
Dialogue between health workers and employers can help ensure that recommended policies and procedures are properly implemented. It is essential to provide nursing staff with personal protective equipment, but also to train them and make them aware of the correct use of this equipment. In addition, testing for COVID-19 should be made available to healthcare workers as widely as possible, to promote both their own safety and that of patients.
The pandemic exposes healthcare workers to exceptionally demanding situations. In addition to a heavy workload and, at times, traumatic situations where they must deal with difficult decisions and unprecedented death rates, healthcare workers must overcome the fear of contracting the disease or transmitting it. to their families and loved ones.
Lessons learned from other epidemics, such as the Ebola virus disease outbreak that hit West Africa in 2014, show that health workers can face discrimination and stigma, based on public fear of contracting the disease.
Providing social support within teams, families and friends, and providing information and advice to healthcare workers on how to cope with stress as well as post-traumatic stress disorder are two aspects that come together. are part of the response to the crisis.
In emergency situations, healthcare workers are forced to work in unusual and, sometimes, atypical conditions. To cope with the pandemic, many healthcare workers are experiencing increased workload, already heavy, long working hours and lack of rest periods. As many countries have closed schools and put all public life on hold, these workers must also organize their private life and take care of their dependents. Appropriate working time arrangements are in place to help healthcare workers reconcile the demands of healthcare services, their family responsibilities and their own well-being.
In Togo, health workers have received special Covid-19 insurance able to cover the risk of contamination to which they are constantly exposed, as part of their mission.
Investments must be made in all health systems, even after this pandemic, so that they can recruit, deploy and retain sufficient numbers of properly trained, supported and motivated health workers. The COVID-19 pandemic once again underscores the urgent need for a strong health workforce, an integral part of any resilient health system; this aspect is now recognized as an essential foundation to enable the recovery of our societies and our economies and to prepare for future health emergencies.