PSI raises alarm with WHO on urgent need of PPE

The world is applauding the commitment and courage of health workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and the public's expressions of solidarity are uplifting. But it's not enough. PSI has called on the WHO to ensure they have personal protective equipment (PPE) to guard against transmission of the virus.

In a letter to Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli calls on him to address the severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff who are spending long hours in direct contact with infected patients.

Coupled with the shortage of ventilators, and medical supplies – including disinfectants – this issue presents a major obstacles to the urgent response to the virus.

Rosa Pavanelli PSI General Secretary

We do not want health workers to become dead heroes. And we need as many health workers as possible to be alive and healthy to keep up the good work they are doing.

Pavanelli continued: "We have been in daily touch with members of our affiliates across the world, united in commitment and taking action in their different ways at this grim historic moment. This has included our organising a series of webinars during which members on the front line in countries most hit, such as Italy, South Korea and Japan, have shared their experiences".

"They repeatedly identified the severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff who are spending long hours in direct contact with infected patients, and the shortage of ventilators and medical supplies –including disinfectants –as major obstacles to the response. This crucial problem is also being stressed by health workers in other countries as they prepare to combat transmission of COVID-19 infection."

"Extraordinary measures are urgent to avoid an even bigger tragedy. I thus would urge you to call on WHO Member States to, without delay, take all possible initiatives (requisition, contingency alert or conversion of production)to order factories in their countries to expand local manufacture of PPE and medical supplies."

"Spain has taken the bold step of requisitioning private hospitals across the country. Italy and France have ordered private hospitals to accept and treat COVID 19 patients. This is a step we strongly believe countries acrossthe world should take. Governments must put the people’s health first without any equivocation. And that is why PSI is calling for 'Public Health, Once and for All'. The arrowhead of this stand presently, is a “Safe Workers Save Lives” campaign."

"We do realise that at this juncture all hands must be on desk to defeat the pandemic. But as you have rightly pointed out, it is not enough to “throw money at an outbreak and when it’s over we forget about it”. If world leaders continue this way, we would be “dangerously unprepared for the next pandemic”. And achieving universal health care might remain an aspiration that is never attained."

To read the full contents of the letter (in English) please see the attachment below.