Women health workers face greater risks—Study
The report titled‘ The Great Resignation: Why Women Health Workers are Leaving’, further states that the Covid pandemic had a profound impact on health workers, particularly women“ who lead the response in the health sector”.. It quotes a community psychologist in Malawi who reportedly said there were two women in her department and that it was always them who ended…
A policy report produced by Women in Global Health (WGH) indicates that in all parts of health systems, women health workers have often faced greater occupational risks than their male colleagues.
The report titled ‘The Great Resignation: Why Women Health Workers are Leaving’, further states that the Covid pandemic had a profound impact on health workers, particularly women “who lead the response in the health sector”.
It quotes a community psychologist in Malawi who reportedly said there were two women in her department and that it was always them who ended up being sent out to the field because they were women and could relate with people better.
“So that’s the excuse that they end up giving. But we’re not getting adequate protection. And the men end up staying behind in their safe space.
“The [gender] dynamics have been playing out, where women are expected to do the dirty work, but without getting any protection.
“I have seen this trend in different departments and also hearing it from female friends in different fields nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists – and when we complain about being sent out into the field without proper protection, we get labelled as being stubborn,” the worker is quoted as saying.
The report adds that in some low and middle-income countries, there are health worker shortages and unemployed health workers at the same time.
“Unemployed physicians and nurses have been documented in several countries including Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo,” it says.
WGH has also paid tribute to health workers who lost their lives during the Covid pandemic and recognises that significant numbers of health workers, especially women, “are burned out after more than three years on the frontlines of patient care”.
“We call for a new social contract for all women health workers based on safe, decent and equal work, including equality in leadership and decision-making.
“This new social contract will be the foundation for economic justice, and for the strong, effective and equitable health systems essential for universal health coverage and future health security,” the organisation says.
Malawi has one of the largest health sector vacancy rates in the world, with activists persistently pressuring government to fill the gaps.
In March this year, the Health Services Commission said it was failing to recruit enough healthcare workers due to financial resource constraints.
The commission’s chairperson Themba Nyirenda told the Health Committee of Parliament that the vacancy rate stands at 51 percent.
“The population-to-health worker ratio is at 2.85 per 1,000 population from the 4.45 target of the World Health Organisation.
“There are thousands of healthcare workers that are needed, to be recruited, but government needs a lot of funds to do so,” he said.
The committee’s deputy chairperson Eurita Ntiza Valeta expressed worry over the vacancy rate which, she said, is affecting healthcare service delivery.