The Health Services Workers’ Union (HSWU) of Ghana has commended the government for the bold steps taken to avert the rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It said it is apparent that this pandemic has intensified the pressure on the global healthcare workforce and “we want to remind government that the Health Workers stand as the backbone of the country in this crucial global pandemic and are at a higher risk of contracting this virus.
“Drawing lessons from the case of China, about 3,000 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 22 have died. Furthermore, their family members are also at elevated risk of exposure to contracting the virus.”
In a statement signed by Mr Reynolds O. Tenkorang, the General Secretary of HSWU of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Ghana, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, recommended the following:
That, the Trade Union and Labour rights of their members must be respected, including the right to move away from imminent hazards in accordance with Act 651 (2003) section 119 (1) “as we attempt to halt the spread and treatment of infected citizens.
“In doing this, government must put in place all the Occupational Safety and Health measures and protocol, including the provision of PPE for our members all over Ghana.”
The statement said the government must be transparent and communicate with health workers to foster trust and a sense of control and by this, frequent information and clear, concise feedback sessions should be held in all emergency response centres and health facilities.
“This will help the health workers stay focused on care and feel secured in their roles,” it said.
The statement said government must put in place measures to let the workers, who are under pressure, get adequate rest so they could vibrant enough to help maintain individual and team performance during this trying period.
“The government should ensure that when healthcare workers exhibit respiratory symptoms, they should not provide direct patient care. Also, when vaccination and treatments become available, the healthcare workforce should be considered a priority for evaluation and treatment. Because workforce safety is a high priority,” it said.
It said government through its health agencies should do constant reviews to ensure that the measures put in place to battle COVID-19 works effectively.
“We also encourage government to decentralize the testing process as recommended by the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) to ensure that identification is done at the early stages so that the needed action is taken,” the statement said.
It said the government should continue to educate the public about stigmatization and discrimination among health workers who have dedicated their lives to protect others and that in these difficult times, they needed solidarity to defeat the virus.
The statement said the government should provide temporary insurance packages for the members of the HSWU whose lives were are at risk and that in the spirit of social partnership, encouraged government to have constant engagement with the Health Sector Unions.
It said due to the vulnerability of the elderly to COVID-19, government should make provision for special care for this group.
The HSWU said in these difficult moment, it strongly supports all members and encouraged them to stay strong, remain professional and also abide by all the prescribed measures and best practices to avoid contracting the virus in the cause of discharging their duties.
“We also encourage our members to self-monitor, report signs of illness and not engage in patient care while exhibiting symptoms of the virus.
“We hope that this pandemic serves as a wake-up call to the government to massively invest in the Public Health System of Ghana in line with the Abuja Declaration where African Union countries met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15 per cent of their annual budget to improve the health sector.
“We will also like to advise the public to remain calm and follow the recommendations being provided by the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service,” the statement said.
Source : Ghana News Agency