Better protection for nurses! - A global call to action
Provision of standard infectious disease precautions and safe workplaces for nurses all around the world are the main claims of a statement shaped during the International AIDS Conference by Physicians for Human Rights and the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.
The Statement on the Rights of Nurses to Health and Safety has already been endorsed by over 20 organizations ranging from the International Council of Nurses to Partners in Health, as well as many more individual health care providers.
Nurses are in acute shortage in many countries and often work under extreme pressure and in dangerous conditions. Yet they constitute the core of the world’s health care delivery system, and are often the front-line response to major disease epidemics. Global health organizations recognize this fact: “Care and support programmes are needed to enable health workers to work effectively and to reduce stress and burn-out,” according to the World Health Organization.
“We hope our Global Call to Action serves to ensure that our colleagues working around the world are provided basic occupational safety as they perform their life-saving work. It’s time that policymakers, health system leaders, and donors get serious about protecting nurses,” said ANAC Executive Director Adele Webb.
The Statement calls for the provision of infectious disease precautions and policies, the monitoring and measurement of workplace safety; accessible, confidential and affordable access to health care services for nurses; and the provision of a supportive environment for nurses and health care workers to alleviate high burnout rates, fatigue, help lessen the threat of infectious disease, and allow nurses to better care for their patients and themselves.
“Nurses, who constitute 70% of the health work force in almost every country, are essential to the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve,” commented Pat Daoust, Director of PHR’s Health Action AIDS campaign. “Unfortunately the health and well being of nurses is too often neglected, especially in many developing countries. If we are really ready to be serious about building strong health care systems in order to address HIV, TB and other vitally important health issues, it’s about time we address the safety and care of the key people who deliver these services...nurses!”
Read the full petition text here:
Statement on the Rights of Nurses to Health and Safety
Whereas nurses and all health care workers are essential to the health and well-being of all communities, and to the prevention of and scale-up of treatment for current global health crises including HIV, TB, and malaria pandemics, and to securing for all people the right to the highest attainable standard of health;
Whereas there is a global crisis related to shortages of nurses and health care workers directly impacting on achievement of Millennium Development Goals for health, raising the importance of retention of current workers and recruitment of new workers into the health workforce;
Whereas nurses and other health care workers face occupational health and safety risks in caring for persons with infectious illnesses including bloodborne and respiratory infections, including HIV and TB;
Whereas HIV-related illness is a leading cause of death, illness and absence from work for nurses and health care workers in regions heavily affected by the HIV epidemic, and the loss of this workforce directly impacts the ability to ensure health services to populations in need of prevention, care and treatment;
Whereas nurses and health care workers routinely face a lack of access to confidential, accessible, and affordable healthcare services, specifically in accessing HIV prevention, testing and care services;
We call upon all government leaders, bilateral and multilateral development donors and partners to adopt the following principles and incorporate them in implementation of all current and future programs supporting the delivery of HIV prevention, care and treatment services;
- Provision of standard infectious disease precautions for the protection of the health, safety, and well-being of ALL nurses and other health care workers in their work environments, with concrete policies, regulations and management directives that deliver these protections for these essential and valuable health personnel, including rapid access to post-exposure prophylaxis in the event of potential exposures to HIV and adequate supplies of protective equipment;
- Provision of measures ensuring safe workplace conditions, respecting the physical safety of nurses and health care workers in the course of traveling to or carrying out their duties;
- Provision of accessible, confidential, and affordable access to healthcare services, including HIV testing, prevention and care, for nurses and other health care workers;
- Provision of a supportive environment for nurses and health care workers engaged in health service delivery, recognizing the high rates of burnout and fatigue among health professionals dealing with life-threatening illnesses on a daily basis, enhancing their ability to care for their patients as well as themselves.