“Saying thank you is not enough. Governments must take action to ensure their basic rights and safety are never put at such horrendous risk again.”
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
As the crisis in Ontario and Quebec’s long-term care homes dominates the new headlines this week, the need to listen to, support and protect health care workers in all sectors has never been more urgent.
More than half of the people in the world who have tested positive for COVID-19 live in the Americas. Several countries in the region are entering their deadliest phases in the coming weeks. Health and social care infrastructures are weak in several countries. Some governments, already marked by repressive measures, are further restricting rights and freedoms, and even denying the pandemic or its diverse impact on communities.
There are more than 9 million health care workers in the region, including medical and nursing staff, cleaning staff in hospitals and care homes, medical and security transport, and others working to assist people affected by the COVID-19. At least 70% of this workforce are women.
Those on the front line of the response – particularly the most vulnerable people – not only work in unsafe conditions with insufficient protective equipment, but also risk reprisals from authorities or employers if they raise their voices. Some have face stigmatization, physical attacks, death threats and even denial of services such as use of public transport. People with lower wages and precarious employment are among the least protected.
The protection of health workers, by both states and companies, is crucial to ensuring the health of the more than one billion people who live in the Americas. Deemed “essential workers”, too often their rights are sidelined.
Amnesty International is calling on governments to guarantee workers ́ rights to health and safety, to express their opinions without being silenced, and to not suffer harassment or discrimination.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Read and share Amnesty’s latest research briefing The Cost of Curing
2. Add your name to the #PromiseToCare pledge
3. Encourage others to support the pledge
Take a selfie or create a short video saying why you #PromiseToCare and share via Twitter and Instagram. Here are some messages to use:
More than 9 million people in the Americas, including medical, nursing and hospital staff, work every day to take care of our health and take risks for all of us. It’s time for us to take care of them too! #PromiseToCare
We promise to take care of all health personnel in the Americas: those who guard a hospital entrance, care for an elderly person, keep buildings and medical units clean, or assist a person waiting in the emergency room. #PromiseToCare Join us!
Health care personnel are essential. So are their rights. It’s time we took care of them. Join the promise! #PromiseToCare
To all the people who work in facilities where our health is cared for. #PromiseToCare
WANT TO DO MORE?
Share these general messages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
People on the front lines of the pandemic in the Americas are working in unsafe conditions with insufficient protective equipment. We call on the governments of the region to increase their cooperation efforts so that no one is left behind. #PromiseToCare http://amn.st/6007GB6lJ
Health workers in the Americas risk reprisals from authorities or other employees if they raise their voices. Some have even suffered death threats and physical attacks. It is time to protect them! #PromiseToCare http://amn.st/6007GB6lJ
Governments in the Americas need to pay special attention to the situation of cleaning staff: they are most at risk in health care facilities and nursing homes. #PromiseToCare http://amn.st/6007GB6lJ