Statement to the 72 WHO Regional Committee for Western Pacific
Agenda item 10
On Behalf of Public Services International
I am Shaye Candish of NSW Nurses & Midwifes Association. I speak on behalf of Public Services International (PSI) the global union federation representing 30 million workers and the global voice of health workers.
COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses plaguing global and national health systems
Decades of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation of health have exacerbated and prolonged the pandemic.
We make the following recommendations to member states in the hope that you will honor health workers through commitments to expanded quality public health and a global system designed for public good, not profits.
- Health care workers have worked in dangerous and traumatic conditions, often without appropriate PPE, extended hours and with little to no time off. Thousands have died. In some countries in the region, up to 83% of health workers have experienced burnout … We must develop regional and national strategies to address the crisis in burnout, anxiety and post traumatic stress amongst health workers
- There is extensive evidence that patient health, public health and workers’ health are endangered without mandated, safe nurse to patient ratios. Unions in the region have reported that nurses have been responsible for more than 20 Covid-19 patients. All countries need mandated Nurse to Patient Ratios and move toward 1:1 in ICU and 1:3 in wards.
- COVID-19 exacerbated the global shortage in health workers. The turnover rate of newly hired nurses has been as high as 45.5% in some countries. To attract and retain workers member states must work with unions to improve pay, conditions, health and safety, staff ratios, job security, training and ensure a voice of workers through their unions.