Webinar 2

Webinar 2Occupational risk protection of health care workers 

Episode 1:  Country experiences from the WHO three Regions (EMR, SEAR and WPR) on measures to ensure occupational safety of HCWs against infection and mortality, financing for treatment cost of HCWs affected from COVID infection; COVID insurance coverage, additional hardship incentives and allowance, and adequacy of personal protective gears;

Host:  WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean

Co-host: WHO South-East Asia Region

Date and time: September 11th, 2020; 18.00-19:30h Bangkok time (UTC+7)

Main issues:  

Health workers are at the forefront of the response to COVID-19, both as service providers and as high-risk groups for contracting the disease. Health workers are at risk of becoming infected, and even losing their lives. They also face the fear of transmitting the infection to their families and loved ones. The lack of infection prevention and control programmes and appropriate measures resulted in high rate of COVID-19 infections among health care workers which was exacerbated with the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for the appropriate use of PPEs. The session will address

  • The magnitude of the COVID-19 infection among health workers and the challenges faced.
  • Monitoring mechanisms for the infections among the health workers.
  • Measures to reduce the risk of infection (availability of PPE, training, work arrangements to reduce risk, surveillance protocols, training on IPC, accommodation facilities, etc)
  • Quarantine (and return to work) rules and conditions
  • Treatment and compensation mechanisms for the infected health care workers



  • To understand the magnitude and reasons of health care worker infections and mortality from COVID-19
  • To learn from country experiences on measures to ensure occupational safety of HCWs against COVID -19 infection
  • To explore how countries addressed the treatment of health workers and the hardship incentives and allowances
  • To formulate policy options to address

Moderator /Speakers / Commentary

Welcome remarks:

  • Dr F. Gulin Gedik, Coordinator, Health Workforce, WHO /EMRO


  • Dr Tomas Zapata, Regional Advisor, Human Resources for Health, WHO /SEARO


Speaker 1: Country experience from a high COVID-19 burden country in EMR

  • Dr Ehab Attia, Infection Prevention and Control, Ministry of Public Health, Egypt

Speaker 2: Country experience from a high COVID-19 burden country in SEAR

  • Dr Somkiat Siriruttanapruk, Thailand

Speaker 3: Country experience from a high COVID-19 burden country in WPR

  • Dr Kenneth Ronquillo, Ministry of Health, Philippines


  • Dr Zainab Samad, Professor of Medicine, Chair, Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakista

Webinar 2: Occupational risk protection of health care workers

Episode 2:  Impact of COVID-19 on health care workers, which includes stressful work environment, violence against health care workers (if any), social stigma and government’s psychosocial support, and health care workers’ resilience


Host: WHO Western Pacific Region

Cohost: WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region

Date and time: September 18th, 2020; 18.00-19:30h Bangkok time (UTC+7)


Main issues (background):

The unprecedented magnitude of the pandemic could lead to a long-term global upsurge in mental health problems. Health workers, who are at the center of the fight against the virus, are particularly at risk of negative mental health impact, for several reasons being (not exhaustive):


  • Emotional stress and physical burnout from the increasing health care demand and intense schedules
  • Anxiety over workplace exposure (e.g., shortage of PPEs, breach of IPC requirements, etc)
  • Concerns over infecting family members (which may lead to lengthy isolation when return from work) Being confronted with great suffering and high mortality rates and making difficult clinical decisions given limited options available
  • Facing the risk of stigma and violence against health workers which are amplified by fear and misinformation


Exposure to excessive stress, for prolonged periods can have harmful consequences on the emotional and mental well-being of frontline workers, which may eventually cause compromised capacity of the health system and emergency response. In this regard, ensuring the mental health of health workers is critical in sustaining COVID-19 preparedness, response, and resilience.  Supervisors, leads, or managers also have a responsibility to protect the mental health of staff through reasonable work arrangements, encouraging appropriate help-seeking behavior, and establishing referral to services where available.


We have seen government across the world taking measures to protect and/or promote the psychosocial well-being and resilience of health works, including providing mental health services, providing additional financial and non-financial incentives to frontline health workforce, putting in place policies to ensure occupational health and safe at workplaces and protection against physical attacks, discrimination and stigmatization towards health workers. Yet challenges still exist and valuable lessons have been identified at operational level. This webinar presents an opportunity to recognize the mental health issues faced by health workers across the three regions, share good practices on lessons learnt, and discuss policy options and actions required to further ensure the mental health and resilience of health workers during the time of COVID-19.

Every crisis also presents opportunities. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to support our Member States to strengthen their mental health systems and build back better.



  • Share good practices and lessons learnt from countries on ensuring mental health of health workers, protecting them from stigma and violence, and supporting their willingness and continuity to work during COVID-19
  • Identify policy options and actions needed to strengthen health workforce resilience through effective psychosocial support, incentives and workplace protection.
  • Highlight the opportunities to build back better for more resilient psychosocial and mental health systems for health workers during and after health emergencies


Moderator / Speakers / Commentary

Introductory and Closing remarks:

  • Mr Martin Taylor, Director Health Systems and Services, WHO Western Pacific Region



  • Ms. Michele Rumsey, Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Development, University of Technology Sydney



Speaker 1: Country experience from a high COVID-19 burden country in EMR

  • Dr. Iain Francis Tulley, Chief Executive Mental Health Service, Hamad Medical Corporation, National Health Strategy Lead, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Ministry of Public Health, State of Qatar


Speaker 2: Country experience from a high COVID-19 burden country in SEAR

  • Dr Yatan Pal Singh Balhara, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India


Speaker 3: Country experience from a high COVID-19 burden country in WPR

  •  Prof. Maki Umeda, University of Hyogo, Research Institute of Nursing Care for People and Community, WHO Collaborating Centre for Disaster Risk Management for Health, Kobe, Japan



  • Dr Natasha Shaukat, Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Stadium, and Centre of Excellence Trauma and Emergencies, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan



  • National and subnational health policy-makers responsible for developing and implementing health workforce plans for COVID-19 response
  • International organizations, professional associations, non-government and civil society organizations and research institutions working in the field of health systems and more specifically in the area of human resources for health