The health workforce is the backbone of every health system and is essential to achieving the right to health for all.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, community and frontline health workers – the vast majority of whom are women – continue to play an essential role in addressing service shortages and access barriers, and bring services, including for sexual and reproductive health, to remote communities and to those who most need them.
Despite their essential role in addressing the pandemic, and continuing to deliver quality, gender-sensitive and rights-based health services and information, many health workers currently struggle to access COVID-19 vaccines, especially in lower- and middle-income settings.
International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) Director-General Dr Alvaro Bermejo said:
“We’ve watched with both horror and admiration as frontline healthcare workers around the world battle courageously to manage one of the most catastrophic global health crises of our time. Millions of healthcare workers around the world, risking their own health and who are often not protected well enough, continue to provide life-saving care during these exceptional and unprecedented times. We must protect those who are our first and last line of defence in the response to the pandemic. Therefore, we must ensure that every healthcare worker is prioritized during the vaccine rollout.
Nations that have the wealth and access privilege to the vaccine must resist vaccine nationalism – hoarding vaccines will only delay a global recovery. Global leaders must stand together in solidarity to ensure that all frontline healthcare workers – regardless of where they are located – are prioritized and have equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine. If we do not, we face severe disruption to our healthcare systems, many of which are experiencing unprecedented pressure.”
IPPF is committed to supporting all health workers and supports the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Equity Declaration, which encourages countries to accelerate the equitable rollout of vaccines in every country, starting with health workers and those at highest risk for COVID-19.
IPPF urges governments and world leaders to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines can be readily accessed by all frontline health workers, including those working in non-government facilities and in mobile or outreach community-based services, and across groups that are currently excluded from, or experiencing unequal access to, vaccination programmes, especially in countries with scarce access to global vaccines pools.
IPPF and its Member Associations are committed to ensuring that those who need healthcare – no matter where they are – can access quality and affordable health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, and receive the care they need to live a healthy life.