We’ve all heard the term “health worker heroes.” But really, they’re health worker humans.
Health workers are just people, like us. They’ve been working in incredibly challenging situations, especially during the past year. They’re not magic. They don’t have superpowers that let them never sleep or make them invincible against disease. They’re real people. They’re people who have families and hobbies and needs—inside and outside of work.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that health workers are essential to us all. But we never ask the question: what’s essential to health workers?
This is something we spend a lot of time thinking about at IntraHealth International. And the answers are many: Fair and decent housing, steady paychecks, regular training, masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment so that they can do the job safely. They need protection from burnout. They need protection for their mental health. And they need supportive supervisors and strong managers and the right technology at their fingertips.
There’s a lot of complexity in delivering health care; a lot of moving parts that have to come together to make it happen. And health workers who are trained and deployed where they’re needed most are at the center of it all.
So that’s why we look at the whole health worker and the whole health system. You can’t just focus on medicines, for example, to fight disease. Drugs and medicines are essential. We’re all thrilled that now we have these amazing COVID-19 vaccines. But there’s so much focus on the vaccine that no one’s talking about the people it will take to deliver them.
We’re talking about a massive global vaccine rollout that’s bigger and faster than humanity has ever attempted. There are 7.8 billion of us today. Who is going to give all those shots?
We’re going to need more nurses, midwives, and community health workers, all ready and deployed to every city and community in the world. If we don’t have the right people in place, no amount of product will help us succeed. We need lab techs, IT professionals, drivers, cleaners, advocates, clinicians—they’re all health workers. And they’re all essential. We need to invest in them.
This post was originally published by IntraHealth International. It can be read here.