The World Health Organisation said that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected healthcare workers across the globe, and may have killed between 80,000 and 180,000.
Criticising unfair distribution of vaccines, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the deaths ‘a tragic loss’. The data, released by the WHO on Thursday, covers the period between January 2020 and May 2021.
About 135 million people are estimated to work in healthcare worldwide.
WHO stated that according to data accessed, two in five health care workers globally are fully vaccinated, however, it added that the "average masks" huge differences across regions and economic groupings. As of September 2021, available data from 119 countries suggests that less than 1 in 10 healthcare workers have been fully vaccinated in the African and Western Pacific regions, while 22 mostly high-income countries reported that more than 80 per cent of their staff had been fully vaccinated. A few large high-income countries have not yet reported data to the WHO, it noted.
Tedros urged countries to "protect and support" healthcare workers and ensure safe working conditions for them including regular payment of salaries and pay equity.
He said that more than 10 months on since the first vaccines were approved by the WHO, the fact that millions of health workers still had not been vaccinated was an “indictment” on the countries and companies controlling the global supply.
“We have a moral obligation to protect all health and care workers, ensure their rights and provide them with decent work in a safe and enabling practice environment. This must include access to vaccines”, said Jim Campbell, Director of the WHO Health Workforce Department.
The UN health agency says governments need to strengthen the monitoring and reporting of COVID-19 infections, ill-health and deaths among health and care workers, and create a working environment in which health care workers are protected.
-with inputs from agencies