The Government was asked today to make personal protective equipment available to all healthcare and other at-risk workers as the Bermuda Public Services Union marked World Health Day.
Linda Bogle Mienzer, the BPSU second vice-president, said that the day came “after the sad news of two deaths” on the island linked to Covid-19.
She explained; “We must implore our governments to prioritise investment in health and take all necessary measures to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of health workers and other workers on the frontline of this pandemic response without delay.
“We need safe workers to save lives.
“The world has to break the cycle of panic and neglect.”
Ms Bogle Mienzer said, in line with affiliate, Public Services International, a global federation of more than 700 trade unions representing 30 million workers in 154 countries, Bermuda should:
• Urgently make PPE available to all health workers, including community health workers, as well as workers in all sectors with high risk of contagion.
• Address gender dimensions of the crisis. Women make up 70 per cent of all health workers and their concerns should be tackled. The necessary shutdown of schools poses a problem for many of them who have young children.
Ms Bogle Mienzer added: “The situation is even more difficult for single mothers or when both parents are health workers. Childcare support mechanisms must be put in place for them as needed.
“While the BPSU applauds Government’s quick response in implementing childcare for all Bermuda Hospitals Board healthcare workers, the union believes that all Bermuda’s healthcare workers should have access to childcare.”
Ms Bogle Mienzer said: “As we face this crisis head-on, we encourage all to support our healthcare workers by following the instructions Government has put in place to save us.”
She told the public: “Observe Government’s shelter in place guidelines, remember to wash your hands frequently and wear a mask when in public spaces.”
She added that Bermuda was “not alone in the deadly crisis”.
Ms Bogle Mienzer said: “To date, over a million people have been infected by the coronavirus, to date killing approximately 70,000 people.
“These figures are grim and demand immediate action by governments and the international community to curtail and defeat this pandemic.
“Our healthcare workers on the frontline of this crisis face a perilous situation. They are overworked and stressed.
“The world is in a battle for personal protective equipment to protect them. This sobering situation is worrying for health workers and their families.”
Ms Bogle Mienzer claimed: “Years of cuts in the funding of public healthcare preceded this morbid scenario.”
She added: The Director General of the World Health Organisation noted at the beginning of 2020 that we might be entering a period of pandemics which the world will be ‘dangerously unprepared’ for.
“Who would have known that his words would hit us so soon?”