Posted on: December 8, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

The West African Health Sector Unions Network wants state and private employers to entrench workplace health, safety and HIV policies and programmes.

Health workers call on organised labour and trade unions to “participate in policy formulation and implementation processes through formation of bi-partite OHS Committees” in health care. An eight point memo emerged from the eighth WAHSUN plenary Lome, Togo, in November 2011.

West Africa is emerging from a decade of various civil wars, and health workers are helping to heal the scars of various kinds of violence and exploitation, aiming for ‘decent work’ according to the ILO motto.

Health Services Workers’ Union of Ghana, Trades Union Congress, Ghana Registered Nurses’ Association, Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, and Sierra Leone Health Services Workers Union, National Private Sector Health Workers’ Union of Liberia, and Public Services International Regional Office for English Speaking (East and West) Africa were represented.

Health workers condemn global financial recovery policies and programmes that do not focus on jobs and protection of public services, demanding a “pro-people development paradigm” against neo-liberalism.

Health workers note that employers “perpetuate outsourcing, privatisation and deregulation, despite its clearly demonstrated bankruptcy.”

Delegates applaud consolidation of democracies within West Africa, against various political conflicts that harm the interests of workers, particularly in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Health workers call for a 15% national budget allocation to public health care services, as recommended in the Abuja Declaration of African Ministers of Health, “to ensure significant improvement in health care delivery on the sub-continent.” Source; GNA

HIV /AIDS claims Zambian nurses

HIV/AIDS is claiming more health workforces in some African countries than the skills drain, according to scientific research published in Lancet.

Frank Feeley and a team of USA Boston University School of Public Health recommends that policymakers should focus on keeping health professionals alive, instead of trying to limit emigration.

Their research in Zambia’s Lusaka and Kasama districts found that more nurses and clinical officers die (68%), than resign (23%), or retire in Zambia (9%). The average age at death is 38, suggesting a high HIV/AIDS toll, and not other diseases.

The team calculates that 298 of the 8500 public sector nurses and midwives in Zambia in 2000, have died, about double the number of Zambian nurses who applied to work in the UK in 2003.

Feeley recommends that African governments provide access to confidential treatment for health workers at low cost, or no cost. If Zambian nurses death rate could be reduced by 60%, Zambian health institutions would benefit more than they would from a ban on recruitment to the UK.
Zambia has already started providing free drugs to state health workers with HIV/AIDS.

PHOTO; Experienced Zambian health care workers are a rare sight. Their colleagues are likely to die aged about 38 (68%), or emigrate to first world countries like the UK or UAE (23%). Only 9% of these workers retire in Zambia. In West Africa, war had masked various kinds of violence against workers.

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