The Filipino Nurses United added its voice to a global call for the World Health Organization to strengthen its interim guidance on infection prevention and control to protect nurses and other healthcare workers who are at the heart of patient care and essential to the response to the novel coronavirus.
The Global Nurses United, an international organization of nurses’ unions in more than 28 countries that counts FNU as an affiliate, formally raised its concern to the international health agency, noting the alarmingly rate that nCoV has spread since it was identified late last year.
In barely two months, the 2019-nCoV has claimed almost 400 deaths and infected more than 30,000 individuals in almost 30 countries, with still no sign of letting up and with no definitive formula of treatment yet developed.
“Nurses, being in the frontline of the battle against this deadly virus, are clearly the most vulnerable in catching infection thus our call for a more prompt, vigorous and unequivocal approach by our respective governments,” Maristela Abenojar, FNU president, said in a statement on Sunday.
“We, nurses in the home front, are actually distressed over the seeming languorous treatment by the government of the pandemic even as the first recorded death outside China has happened in our own backyard. Despite the ignominy of having the first death, incomplete and insufficient protective gears for front-liners, unavailable protective masks for a panicky public, poor coordination between and among government agencies—our highest health official can still smugly assert that the country has not a ‘weak’ public health system. With all due respect, we beg to disagree,” Abenojar added.
Even the private health sector that should complement the public health system are confronted with the same problems of heavy nurse-to-patient load, poor work conditions and subsistence wages resulting to an increasing number of nurses resigning or looking for alternative work, said FNU vice president
Consequently, a number of private hospitals are reportedly closing or merging wards because of shortage of skilled nurses.