April 10, 2024

On April 5, during World Health Worker Week, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law released the Health and Care Worker Policy Lab. The database gathers laws, regulations, and policies on the rights of health and care workers from more than 150 countries, and provides resources to support countries in strengthening their national policies and operations in support of the “Global Health and Care Worker Compact.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health and care workers around the world faced countless occupational hazards and risks — from deaths and illnesses to burnout and mental health issues. In response to COVID-19’s impacts on health and care workers, the 74th World Health Assembly in 2021 requested the development of technical guidance on how to protect health and care workers and safeguard their rights based on existing international human rights and labor and humanitarian legal instruments. Drawn from extensive consultation with health and care worker organizations, the “Global Health and Care Worker Compact” was created.

The Health and Care Worker Policy Lab features national laws, policies, tools, and guidelines about the Compact’s areas of focus across four domains — preventing harm, providing support, ensuring inclusivity, and safeguarding rights. Governments and civil societies are encouraged to utilize this tool to better understand existing international legal obligations, improve the work environments of the people doing health and care work, and ensure their rights are protected.

This legal library also helps government officials, civil society, labor leaders, and workers to review their country’s laws and policies and facilitate comparative analysis with other countries’ laws.

In the coming months, the Health and Care Worker Policy Lab will launch a report analyzing the legal environment under which health and care workers live and work around the world. The WHO will also provide an assessment tool for countries to review their progress.

Visit the Health and Care Worker Policy Lab here.

About World Health Organization:

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States across six regions and from more than 150 offices to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. The WHO-led/coordinated network Global Health Workforce Network was established in 2016 following a request by Member States and building on a proposal by the Board of the Global Health Workforce Alliance. The Network operates within WHO as a global mechanism for stakeholder consultation, dialogue, and coordination on comprehensive and coherent health workforce policies in support of the implementation of the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health and the recommendations of the Commission.

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About the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and Georgetown Law:

The O’Neill Institute, located at Georgetown Law, was established to create innovative solutions to the most pressing national and international health concerns, with the fundamental vision that the law is, and will remain, a fundamental tool for solving critical health problems. Georgetown’s Global Health Initiative serves as a university-wide platform for developing concrete solutions to the health challenges facing families and communities worldwide.  

Contact: Heena Patel, O’Neill Institute Director of Strategic Communications, hp498@georgetown.edu