COVID-19 & BHR RESEARCH PROJECT
Health Care Workers
Healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, midwives, public health nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, radiologists, emergency care technicians, assistants to nurses, trainees, nursing care professionals, administrative staff, cleaning staff, and medical waste disposal personnel are engaged in their duties on a daily basis while combating the risk of new coronavirus infection. There are problems such as lack of medical materials such as masks, gowns and gloves, labor shortages, long working hours, impacts on mental health, and discrimination and prejudice against healthcare professionals. In terms of women's share of healthcare professionals, the new coronavirus has a disparate impact on men and women.
As a corporate approach from the viewpoint of "business and human rights", it is useful to analyze the impact of the company's own business on healthcare professionals and to take measures, to the extent possible depending on the size and nature of business, from the viewpoint of how to prevent and mitigate the negative impact on healthcare professionals. Specifically, investments to foster healthcare professionals in the long term can be considered, for example, by securing a system for increasing production and converting business fields to produce healthcare materials, providing other physical support to healthcare professionals, technical measures to reduce the burden on healthcare sites through healthcare and IoT/AI businesses, labor management software businesses, protesting against discrimination and bias, and expressing appreciation and respect for medical professionals.
With regard to national efforts, at the present stage when the number of cases of infection is increasing, securing medical materials to protect the lives and safety of healthcare professionals is of paramount importance, and the provision of information on safety measures such as personal protective equipment and observation of health status and segregation in the case of infection has become a priority. The actual situation of the management of working hours and the grant of breaks is unknown at present. It is thus required to grasp the present state of the working environment of healthcare professionals, to grant special allowances, etc., and to secure care facilities for children and elderly people to maintain a comfortable working environment. As suggested by the WHO and ILO, the prolongation of infectious diseases will also require measures that are focused on the mental health care of healthcare professionals working hard to fight the fear of daily infections.
Healthcare professionals support the infrastructure of the society, and their lives, safety and health are of utmost importance. At this moment, protection of healthcare professionals needs to be our priority. Governments, businesses, and other stakeholders are required to recognize the current situation and take further measures to protect the lives and health of healthcare professionals, prevent overwork and exhaustion, and prevent further shortages of human resources.
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Business and Human Rights Lawyers Network Japan
Emi OMURA, Akiko SATO, and Daisuke TAKAHASHI
C/O Research Center for Sustainable Peace (RCSP),
The University of Tokyo
3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-8902, JAPAN