The WHO has named 2021 the International Year of Health and Care Workers, with the theme “Protect. Invest. Together.” In solidarity and appreciation for the commitment and dedication of health providers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frontline health providers are among the most vulnerable groups who are at greatest risk of exposure when caring for COVID-19 patients. They continue to face additional stress from exhaustion and must manage increasing and demanding workloads. All this, whilst trying to ensure the health and safety of their families, with some being met with stigma from the very same communities that hail them health heroes.
Vaccination roll-out reaching those on the frontline is slow and uneven. “Although progress is being made, many African countries have barely moved beyond the starting line. Limited stocks and supply bottlenecks are putting COVID-19 vaccines out of reach of many people in this region,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “Fair access to vaccines must be a reality if we are to collectively make a dent on this pandemic.”
In Africa there have been major gaps in the COVID-19 response capacity, including human resources, protective equipment, and now, vaccines for healthcare providers. However, this has not stopped the dedicated frontline health providers, working across sub-Saharan Africa, who have stepped up and adapted services so that they can continue to deliver HIV services for children, adolescents, young people and their families despite clinic decanting and country level lockdowns.
In appreciation of the remarkable work done by health providers across Africa, in fighting the double burden of COVID-19 and HIV, PATA joins the WHO in dedicating 2021 to frontline health providers. We acknowledge the continued commitment and compassionate efforts of frontline heath care workers across sub-Saharan Africa. We recognise their sacrifices in providing continued and uninterrupted health and HIV service delivery for children and adolescents, during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
This year, we call for global and local governmental support and action to ensure that frontline health providers in Africa have the resources they need and are cared for, supported, and protected. Protecting those who protect us!
Everyone has a part to play, join the call to action for:
- Additional support and protection for frontline health providers in Africa
- Investment in better infrastructure, equipment, tools and training
- A people’s vaccine that prioritises front line health providers, nobody is safe until we are all safe
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