BWI: Invest in care!

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought immense changes to the lives of workers across the world, it also revealed how the health and care systems of many countries are not sufficiently built and designed to respond to a global health crisis with a full capacity to provide for the public’s health care needs.

The pandemic has also exposed and exacerbated the existing weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the economies of many countries. With the global economy on a downturn, millions of workers worldwide have lost their jobs. Those who are fortunate enough to remain employed, many are working under precarious conditions due to the lack of health services and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from COVID-19. 

However, jobs and wages were not the only things lost by workers to COVID-19. Hundreds of workers, many of them health frontliners, women, migrants and young workers, have unnecessarily lost their lives in the performance of their work. The increasing precarity of their work and lack of access to comprehensive public health care services, as a result of under investment on and privatisation of public health services, have made it extremely difficult for many workers to live through the crisis.

Clearly, workers are some of the most vulnerable sectors to COVID-19. And no less than the realisation and/or strengthening of universal public health and care systems among different countries can help workers capably face up to the global health crisis. 

Thus, as we mark the Global Day for Care on 29 October, BWI calls on all governments to invest in free, equitable and quality public health and care systems. BWI calls on governments to lift all the barriers and obstacles imposed on the working people for them to access health and care services and guarantee equal decent living standards for all. 

BWI’s call is anchored on the following principles:

UNIVERSAL – Ensure universal and equal social protection systems for all, including the most vulnerable groups, such as ethnic groups, migrants, refugees, elderly people and people with disabilities. Social protection must be enjoyed by all workers regardless of race, gender, and citizenship and employment status.

QUALITY – Public health and care services should not only be universal, but of the highest quality. This can be achieved by investing heavily and strategically in public health and care services, including mental health, childcare, early childhood education and elderly care. 

SAFE –Amidst a pandemic, workers’ occupational health and safety can be secured by safeguarding their right to organise and collective bargaining. 

Secure the health and safety of workers. Invest in care! Invest in the future!