ACCES

World Health Worker Week may be over, but the work is never done!

Today, half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services. The estimated shortage of health workers is expected to grow to 18 million by 2030 and this situation has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, new technologies are now available that make safe and effective self-care more possible. Self-care is an essential part of good clinical practice and a critical approach to strengthening the formal health system—and ultimately to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage.

In keeping with this year’s Build the Health Workforce Back Better theme, the Self-Care Trailblazer Group joined with partners from around the globe to celebrate health workers and elevate their voices, roles, and needs. We asked frontline workers, health workforce experts and advocates to share why self-care matters to them—and to their clients. 

Here’s what they had to say:

“Self-care is key to supporting primary health care and prevention as well as enhancing confidentiality and makes healthcare more affordable. Self-care helps take away the burden from an already overburden health system especially the health care providers.”

– Nelly Munyasia
Executive Director, Reproductive Health Network Kenya

“A midwife will only be an effective partner to the woman evolving to motherhood if her tank is full. Compassionate care will flow from a midwife who is aware of how important they are as professionals. Midwives also need care.”

– Eunice Nyasiri Atsali
Midwives Association of Kenya

“Frontline health workers know that health care should not end at the clinic door. Strong primary health care supports people to proactively manage and improve their own health through self-care.”


– Dr. Jeff MarkunS
Executive Director, Primary Health Care Performance Initiative

“Midwives can facilitate uptake and practice of self-care but need to be supported as champions. Midwives should be trained and oriented on self-care, including its benefits for both the provider and care-receivers and on the various self-care products.”



– Dr. Sally Pairman
Chief Executive,
International Confederation

“Pharmacists are ideally placed to support informed self-care by empowering patients to make better health choices. These interventions are essential to optimize the use of resources and can deliver better health outcomes for individuals and contribute to health system sustainability.”


– Dr. Catherine Duggan
Chief Executive Officer International Pharmaceutical Federation 

“Self-care is not a disease approach but a health promotion and preventive strategy. Embraces the centrality of individualized advocacy and determination to being an active participant in keeping healthy and productive. Information, technologies, and result interpretation are crucial for transformative self-care advancement.”

– Dr. Anne-Beatrice Kihara
President Elect,
International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics

“The Council of International Neonatal Nurses believe that nurses who care for the most vulnerable small or sick newborns, must recognize and advocate for self-care. Physical and mental health are important to enable nurses to provide quality care.”


– Karen Walker
Clinical Professor and President,
Council of International Neonatal Nurses

“South Africa’s health service depends on you, our health workers, being strong and healthy. Self-care is critical and prevention is better than cure—know your HIV status, vaccinate yourself against preventable infections and take time to find joy in life outside of work.”

– Professor Marc Mendelson
Head of Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine,
Groote Schuur Hospital,
University of Cape Town
– Mohamed El Amine Youcef Ali
President,
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations
– Fahe Kerubo
Youth Peer Provider,
Reproductive Health Network Kenya

Applause for health workers is not enough. 

If we want the response to the next pandemic to be different, we must listen to and take action to support health workers, including making long-term investments and policies to innovative approaches like self-care to alleviate pressure on health systems and frontline workers, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

They can’t wait for another pandemic to act!