United Nations
United Nations 17 Sep 2020

World Patient Safety Day 2020 & COVID-19 Update: WHO Update (17 September 2020)


Marking World Patient Safety Day, the World Health Organization released a ‘Health Worker Safety Charter' calling on governments and healthcare leaders to take action to better protect health workers and patients.

Speaking today (17 Sep) at a press conference in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said, "One of the keys to keeping patients safe is keeping health workers safe. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and save lives. We all owe health workers an enormous debt - not just because they have cared for the sick. But because they risk their own lives in the line of duty."

The ‘Health Worker Safety Charter' calls on governments and those running health services at local levels to take five actions to better protect health workers. These include 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.

WHO said COVID-19 has exposed health workers and their families to unprecedented levels of risk. Although not representative, data from many countries across WHO regions indicate that COVID-19 infections among health workers are far greater than those in the general population.

SOUNDBITE (English) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Globally, around 14 per cent of COVID-19 cases reported to WHO are among health workers, and in some countries it's as much as 35 per cent; although data are limited and it's hard to know whether health workers are infected in their workplaces or communities. It's not just the risk of infection. Every day, health workers are exposed to stress, burnout, stigma, discrimination and even violence."

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. Before COVID-19 hit, medical professionals were already at higher risk of suicide in all parts of the world. A recent review of health care professionals found one in four reported depression and anxiety, and one in three suffered insomnia during COVID-19[1]. WHO recently highlighted an alarming rise in reports of verbal harassment, discrimination and physical violence among health workers in the wake of COVID-19.

SOUNDBITE (English) Michael Ryan, Executive Director, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Frontline workers are working under immense pressure, under immense strain and they're extremely courageous. The least we can do is give them the tools, the training and the environments in which they can do that work at the safest possible level. Because when you feel safe, you do better. When you feel safe, your performance increases. That's what we want, highly performant, highly skilled health workers, operating in an environment where they can turn all of their knowledge into solutions for their patients. If they're concerned about their safety, if they're worried about that, they will not perform as well."

In addition to the ‘Health Worker Safety Charter', WHO also outlined specific World Patient Safety Day 2020 Goals for health care leaders to invest in, measure, and improve health worker safety over the next year. The goals are intended for health care facilities to address five areas: preventing sharps injuries; reducing work-related stress and burnout; improving the use of personal protective equipment; promoting zero tolerance to violence against health workers; and analyzing serious safety related incidents.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she is positive for Covid-19, making her the ninth person from the White House's Rose Garden event a week ago for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aired on 10/05/2020.
Kim Sledge and the World We Want partnered with World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation to re-record unity anthem "We Are Family" in response to COVID-19 and to focus on global public health needs.

"I am delighted to announce that WHO has the honour of working with Kim Sledge, of the legendary group Sister Sledge, and Natasha Mudhar, founder of the World We Want organization.Together, we are today announcing the start of a new We Are Family campaign to promote global solidarity and collaboration in the face of COVID," WHO's Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Monday (19 Oct) in Geneva.

Special edition cover of the classic song "We Are Family' will be accompanied by a worldwide viral video starring celebrities, frontline health heroes, leaders and members of the public singing together in a show of solidarity and support for addressing present and future global public health needs, including COVID-19.

"The world is a family," Kim Sledge, member of the group Sister Sledge said in a video call. "And those words are calling us together as a family to embrace one another through this time. And I feel that the song itself is one that has been about solidarity. It's about what families do when there's times of crisis."

The #WeAreFamily video campaign will invite people worldwide to star in the music video, recording videos of themselves with their close family and friends singing the song and then sharing this on their social media channels. Part of the proceeds from the new song, being released 9 Nov, will be donated to the WHO Foundation to support the response to COVID-19 and promotion and protection of health for people around the world.

In other COVID-19 related updates, Dr Tedros said "I am pleased to announce today that now 184 countries have now joined COVAX. The most recent countries joining over the weekend are Ecuador and Uruguay."

COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the WHO, the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic. Bringing together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

The COVAX pillar is focussed on the latter. It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Scotland are being barred from selling alcohol indoors for 16 days from Friday, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

They can continue selling food and non-alcoholic drinks indoors until 6pm and are able to sell alcohol outside up until the 10pm curfew.

But in areas with particularly high coronavirus rates, all licenced premises apart from hotels will be forced to close both indoor and outdoor services, though can continue doing takeaways.

The Scottish government also announced that National 5 exams will be cancelled next year in the hope of avoiding a repeat of this year's exams chaos.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said California will review the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Trump administration before allowing them to be released to the public.

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