Protect Health Workers Now: Statement from IntraHealth International on the White House COVID Summit

Health worker dons PPE in Kenya.

A health worker puts on personal protective equipment in Kenya. Photo by Edwin Joe for IntraHealth International.

In a video submitted today to the White House COVID Summit as part of the United Nations General Assembly, IntraHealth International president and CEO Polly Dunford advised US leaders to take action to protect health workers from the pandemic and equip them to achieve our global vaccination goals.

“I urge all leaders attending today to build on the targets presented by the US,” Dunford said. “Because vaccines don't administer themselves—health workers do. We must ensure there are enough paid, trained, supervised health workers to end COVID-19, maintain essential health services, and prepare for the next pandemic.”

Right now, only about 1 in 8 health workers is vaccinated against COVID-19.  At least 115,000 health workers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. And vaccine readiness is at 75% or below in 13 African countries, according to the World Health Organization.

“This is unacceptable,” Dunford said. “I urge you to set a clear deadline for vaccinating all health workers against COVID-19, including community health workers. We’re eager to work in partnership to reach the targets of this Summit—and end this crisis.”

To do this, IntraHealth commits to the following:

IntraHealth will help vaccinate the world against COVID-19.We believe that health workers are essential to achieving these aggressive targets. We support around 450,000 health workers who will aid in these efforts.

We will save lives now by supporting and training health workers to deliver oxygen, treatment, and people-centered care.

We will build back better by supporting governments to actively manage their workforces to implement aggressive mass vaccination campaigns, and prepare for all categories of workers for future pandemics.

Join IntraHealth and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition in calling for government leaders to act now for health workers.

Also read: Polly Dunford in Devex: 4 Ways to Keep Health Workers Safe

IntraHealth International serves as the secretariat for the Frontline Health Workers Coalition.