29 May 2021
Representing the world’s dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and physicians, the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) supports findings and concrete actions listed in the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) report.
The report, being presented to the 74th session of the World Health Assembly this week, stresses the pressing need for significant reform of international and national systems to avoid future infectious disease pandemics and includes a checklist of urgent actions to drive the end of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that having a strong health workforce is key to supporting communities through any health emergency. As stated by the report, “[t]he agility with which countries were able to manage surge health workforce demands has been a key difference between successful and struggling responses.”
Health professionals and care personnel were and continue to be severely affected by COVID-19, especially with the emergence of Long COVID as a long-term condition. Throughout the pandemic the five members of WHPA have been advocating for the rights, respect and support of health and care professionals. To that end, WHPA, with a combined membership of over 41 million health professionals globally, contributed to the report through facilitating the recruitment of health professionals, both working in the frontline and providing essential health services, to participate in focus group discussions. These discussions provided field insights and on-the-ground stories from health professionals from around the world and informed the outcomes of the report and IPPPR’s background document “Impact on essential health services”.
WHPA believes that concrete action and ambitious financial commitments are required to help safeguard our underfunded, COVID-affected health systems. This is critical to ensuring the health, safety and retention of our essential workforce. We must do better to protect not only them but also their patients, families, communities, and the broader health of countries.
As we represent health professionals on WHO’s Steering Committee for The International Year of the Health and Care Workers, WHPA continues to call for real change to improve health systems through additional funding streams and coordinated efforts. Without a strong health workforce, patient safety is at risk and we are moving away from achieving Universal Health Coverage.
WHPA therefore ask policy makers, regulators, professional bodies, health facilities and communities to Stand Up for Positive Practice Environments and following an expert discussion hosted by WHPA, is calling on all countries to classify and treat COVID-19 as an occupational disease.