Nurse George Poe Williams, Secretary of the National Health Workers Union of Liberia, saw his colleagues die as a result of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in his country – and he can see the same occurring as a result of this COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video recorded for Public Services International (PSI), Poe Williams reflected on the current situation, seeing unfortunate similarities between the present situation and that which he faced six years ago.
“It terrifies me to see that developed countries health systems are at breaking point,” he says. “For me, the greatest tragedy is hearing similar stories emerge from colleagues around the world who are up against the coronavirus”.
“Nurses should not have to be martyrs on the job,” he adds.
Poe Williams lamented the “consistent” understaffing and underfunding of public health systems, noting that the under-resourcing of the sector “is exacerbating the strain of this outbreak with deadly impact”.
“We need personal protective equipment while saving lives. We need adequate staffing and well-resourced public health systems”.
“We health workers are not heroes. We are professionals.”