A comprehensive report from the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed the extent of the physical and psychological damage done to healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic because the health systems they worked in failed to protect them.
It pulls together evidence of the impact of the pandemic from WHPA’s five members: FDI World Dental Federation, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), the International Council of Nurses (ICN), World Physiotherapy and the World Medical Association (WMA), which in total represent 41 million healthcare professionals.
The report, ‘What the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed: the findings of five global health workforce professions’, says healthcare workers feared for their personal safety during the pandemic because of a lack of protective equipment, and the absence of any systematic support and security left many feeling undervalued.
“By pooling the data from surveys of their memberships conducted during the pandemic, the WHPA organizations have been able to put together a unique picture of what the pandemic looked like for health professionals on the ground,” WHPA chair Jonathon Kruger said.
“By identifying the challenges we have in common across the professions, we can work together to resolve them.”
The report says vaccination information and training needs to be revised to address vaccination hesitancy and rejection.
It also highlights the lack of mental health and psychosocial support experienced by professional staff, and the profound disruption that occurred to their education, with the closure of education centres, and postponement or cancellation of clinical placements.
It says concerted efforts are needed to protect healthcare workers from the chronic violence that exists in healthcare settings, and that they should have a greater say in high-level planning, strategy and decision-making about the policies that they are responsible for carrying out.
The report concludes that there needs to be a greater involvement of healthcare professionals in efforts to rebuild healthcare systems after the pandemic as part of a whole society response that will contribute to global preparedness and health security.