AAAH Plenary Session (Day 2)


  • 18.00- 19.30 HRS. (BKK)


  • USAID/HRH2030
  • ADB
  • JICA
  • PMAC
  • IHPP

Health care workers (HCWs) are at the forefront of their countries to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain essential services. It affected their physical and mental stress, especially the first period of the pandemic because the number of patients were high; workloads were increased; working hours were longer than usual; personal protective equipment (PPE) were shortage; and knowledge related to this disease, its prevention and control, and treatment are limited. Some patients are in very critical condition and need to be admitted in the intensive care units that are limited in the number of beds, specialists, and personal protective equipment (PPE).      


HCWs also are at risk of mental health stress due to fatigue and stressful work environments, as well as by violence and stigma by the public against them. The higher risk of getting infected, longer working hours, lack of PPE, the potential of passing the infection to their families, the less ideal response by their governments, and the understanding about COVID-19 all contributed as well in the anxiety of health workers in their line of work.


Although HCWs’ safety are the priorities of all countries, some HCWs are also infected from the COVID-19. The nurses are the most common cadre of health workers who are infected from the deadly virus. Most of infected HCWs with COVID-19 are from their direct work related to the COVID-19 patients. Some are from contact with their infected colleagues or their family members. However, there is no global data system to report the number of HCWs that are infected or died with COVID-19, so it may be underestimated.  


The second theme of AAAH webinar series focusing on the importance of occupational risk protection of HCWs were organized in September 2020, comprising 2 episodes:

  • Episode 1:  Country experiences from the WHO three Regions (EMR, SEAR and WPR), including Egypt, Thailand, and Philippines, on measures to ensure occupational safety of HCWs against infection and mortality, financing for treatment cost of HCWs affected from COVID infection; COVID insurance coverage, additional hardship incentives and allowance, and adequacy of personal protective gears, organized on 11 September 2020
  • Episode 2: Country experiences from the WHO three Regions (EMR, SEAR and WPR), including Qatar, India, and Japan,  on impact of COVID on health care workers’ mental health, stressful work environment, and government’s psychosocial support, including violence against health care workers (if any), and HCW resilience, organized on 18 September 2020

Based on the results of speakers’ sharing experiences in the second webinar, it found that there are many measures that the countries have been used for performing occupational risk protection, reducing work-related impact of COVID-19 on HCWs and providing incentives for HCWs, as follows:

  • Infection prevention and control measures in the healthcare Setting: 
  • Setting infection prevention and control policies and measures; 
  • Setting health screening and surveillance measures; 
  • Setting environmental and managerial components of infection prevention and control; 
  • Ensuring the measures’ dissemination and compliance to measures of HCWs;
  • Maximizing the use of available PPEs, especially during the first period of the pandemic that PPEs were shortage; 
  • Formulating a streamlined national guideline of reducing virus transmission; 
  • Providing online training of HCWs on infection control and measures; 
  • Setting regularly online communication platform, such as online meeting with high authorities of government and hospitals for overseeing and discussing the effective measures to overcome the situation 
  • Incentives and compensation for health care workers: 
  • Formulating policies and resources on safety nets and compensation;
  • Recognizing of the high risk for HCWs being infected while providing healthcare service, including special access to testing, supporting measures during isolation or quarantine, free treatment coverage, compensation in case of severe illness or death, as well as incentives to motivate the health workers to keep them in the service
  • Work-related impact of COVID-19 on health care workers, and how they are addressed
  • Physical stress: 
  • Maximizing the use of PPEs; 
  • Assigning appropriate duty and working shift 
  • Social Stigma: 
  • Actively correcting misinformation
  • Promoting public recognition of the HCWs about their contribution in the COVID-19 response and their personal sacrifices to continue providing services despite their fear to be infected 
  • Mental stress:
  • Communicating and constant updating of HCWs on daily information about the pandemic using less personal contact modalities, such as short message service (SMS) 
  • Training of health workers on mental health  to provide psychological first aid
  • Using digital technologies through online platforms to address the mental health stress of HCWs     
  • Developing a self-help screening tool for the HCWS to assess their need for further mental health support, such as telephone helplines or the hotline that is manned by psychologists, doctors, and nurses who can provide support for mental health concerns of HCWs
  • Formulating workplace policies and incentives to motivate HCWs, including     compensation packages for HCWs, such as flexible work arrangements to balance and adapt to the need of minimizing contact and the need to ensure well-being of the healthcare staff, availing leave credits and allowing health care workers to return to work as normally as possible to reduce burnout 
  • Promoting public recognition of HCWs’ contribution to pandemic response
  • To synthesize summary of national and global experiences in occupational risk protection of health care workers in response to COVID-19 pandemic; 
  • To Identify policy recommendations on occupational risk protection and ways to overcome HCWs’ physical, social, and mental challenges in response to COVID-19 and other public health emergencies in the future