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Home / News / India /  14% of global covid-19 cases are among health workers: WHO

Around 14% of the covid-19 cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) are of health workers and in some low-to middle-income economies this percentage can be as high as 35%, the agency said on Friday.

While health workers represent less than 2% of the population in most low-to middle-income countries, thousands of health workers globally have succumbed to the novel coronavirus, WHO said.

In India, as on 11 September over 282 healthcare workers, who lost their lives due to covid-19, claimed benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme, Minister of State for health, Ashwini Kumar Choubey had informed Rajya Sabha.

According to the Union health ministry data, Telangana (18%), Maharashtra (16%), Delhi (14%), Karnataka (13%), Puducherry (12%) and Punjab (11%) have a high covid-19 infection rate among healthcare workers.

Although not representative, data from many countries indicates that covid-19 infection among health workers is far greater than general population, the WHO said. However, data availability and quality are limited, and it is not possible to establish whether health workers were infected in the work place or in community settings, it added.

The WHO on Thursday called on governments and health care leaders to address persistent threats to the health and safety of health workers and patients. "In addition to physical risks, the pandemic has placed extraordinary levels of psychological stress on health workers exposed to high-demand settings for long hours, living in constant fear of disease exposure while separated from family and facing social stigmatization," said WHO. "Before covid-19 hit, medical professionals were already at higher risk of suicide in all parts of the world," it added.

A study done by Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, published in the International Journal of Science and Healthcare Research, found that 50.4 % of the health care workers had depression, 44.6% had anxiety and 34% had difficulty in sleeping.

The WHO, yesterday released a Charter for World Patient Safety Day that includes steps to protect health workers from violence; to improve their mental health; to protect them from physical and biological hazards; to advance national programmes for health worker safety, and to connect health worker safety policies to existing patient safety policies.

No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe. WHO’s Health Worker Safety Charter is a step towards ensuring that health workers have the safe working conditions, the training, the pay and the respect they deserve," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

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