Speak up for health care workers’ safety

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Omnia Bakry, a 2nd year medical student from Sudan, studying at Ahfad university for women. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Can we ensure patients safety without taking care of healthcare workers safety?

The healthcare workers can be defined as: all people engaged in actions whose primary intent is to enhance health. These include, clinical staff such as, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists…etc.

Healthcare workers are the first line of defense against any disease or critical health problems, and every single second, a doctor in the world is saving a patient’s life. When pandemics occur, health workers are the only one who sacrifice themselves to fight back against pandemics.

And as any person, healthcare workers need to be heard by knowing their issues and struggles, protected by giving them the required life savers from gloves, masks and so on to minimize the risk of them getting infected, prepared by giving them trainings and the needed resources to help their pts, supported physically and psychologically to be able to do their work, and receive care by being appreciated and respected.

Health care facilities around the world employ over 59 million workers who are exposed to a complex variety of health and safety hazards everyday including:

-biological hazards, such as TB, Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, SARS.

-chemical hazards, such as, glutaraldehyde, ethylene oxide.

-physical hazards, such as noise, radiation, slips trip and falls.

-ergonomic hazards, such as heavy lifting.

-psychosocial hazards, such as shiftwork, violence and stress.

-fire and explosion hazards, such as using oxygen, alcohol sanitizing gels.

-electrical hazards, such as frayed electrical cords.

Health-care workers (HCWs) need protection from these workplace hazards, and because their job is to care for the sick and injured, HCWs are often viewed as “immune” to injury or illness. Their patients come first, and they are often expected to sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of their patients no matter how many illnesses and pain they face, healthcare workers should work as machines to protect their patients.

But is it the right thing to happen?!

Imagine a sick healthcare worker who got infected with a needle while treating an HIV patient, and because the lack of care this health care worker is about to give another patient this disease as a result of work stress and 24 hour rounds in the hospital which caused him first to get the disease! This disease will be transferred to another patient over and over and infect many people.

When going to the first reason, we will find a tired healthcare worker who didn’t get the enough rest.

When saving healthcare workers, we are truly saving their pts’ lives.

Unsafe working conditions are the result of healthcare workers’ exhaustion in many countries as a result of work related injuries and diseases and the fear of occupational infections specially from HIV and tuberculosis. The 2006 world health report working together for health reported on a severe health workforce crisis in 57 countries, most of them in Africa and Asia.

Protecting the occupational health of health workers is critical to having an adequate workforce of trained and healthy health personnel.

Healthcare workers are ready to help any person who is sick or wounded, but first, they need to be saved.

References :

Monitoring The Buildings Blocks Of health Systems by WHO PDF

https://www.who.int/occupational_health/topics/hcworkers/en/

About the author

Omnia Bakry is a 2 nd year medical student from Sudan, studying at Ahfad university for women. She has been a member in MEDSIN-Sudan from 2 years as SCOME active member, trying to help medical students and herself to be a good future healthcare provider. She believes in the saying: ”Medical education exists to teach the medical student how to learn medicine life-long of time.”

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