We have learned much about our society over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the actual consequences of socioeconomic inequality on a global scale to a widespread lack of scientific literacy, there remains pending work to improve equality and education. Perhaps one of the most important things society learned involves the resolve and work ethic of our health and care workers worldwide, all of whom worked tirelessly on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recognition of the tireless, sometimes thankless, work and sacrifice of health and care providers, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers. Read how PRA invests in healthcare workers and honors their contributions.
In recognition of this tireless, sometimes thankless, work and sacrifice, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers to show appreciation and gratitude to health and care providers everywhere. This designation includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health providers, social workers, occupational health workers, and care providers.
World Health Worker Week (observed April 5-9, 2021) signifies a key advocacy date for the International Year of Health and Care Workers. Organizations like the Frontline Health Workers Coalition stand at the forefront to amplify health and care worker voices and protect those who engage in this crucial work both during the pandemic and beyond.
Why Invest in Health and Care Workers?
The theme of the International Year of Health and Care Workers is “Protect. Invest. Together.” The WHO hopes that this theme highlights the “urgent need” to invest in health and care workers and represents a “collective vision to support the health and care workforce.”
An editorial published in The Lancet expanded on these goals further, writing that the past year has been both “traumatic and testing” for the global health and care workforce. The call to action behind this WHO designation, then, is welcome—and necessary. The entire health and care workforce—from those providing direct patient care to those managing the vaccine rollout—have experienced challenges to physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
PRA is united and steadfast in supporting our approximately 5600 employees with healthcare backgrounds. We cherish their expertise and dedication to saving lives through whatever means possible.
How PRA Is Getting Involved
In addition to the healthcare workers providing direct patient care, biomedical researchers worked tirelessly behind the scenes to study, develop, and conduct COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in a record timeframe. As a whole, the industry has come together with the shared goal of beating COVID-19.
Within the first month of the pandemic, PRA Health Sciences employees dedicated time outside of working hours to volunteering on the front lines at COVID-19 testing centers. Mark Sorrentino, MD, MS, Vice President of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Development and the Center for Vaccine Research, is one of these employees, who volunteered in early April 2020 as a part of Maryland’s medical reserve corps, Maryland Responds.
At the time, Mark spoke of the impressive number of COVID-19 clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov: 350. Today, there are over 5,500 registered clinical trials, all in various stages and all researching different aspects of how this novel coronavirus will continue to impact our lives.
Other employees also stepped up during this time of global crisis, making masks and other PPE for those in need and volunteering in numerous capacities in clinics and communities around the world.
All of this represented work in addition to the scientific tasks undertaken at PRA to fight COVID-19. As the pandemic took hold, we did what we do best and turned to expertise and innovation to lead and support the global COVID-19 response. We contributed notably using wearable devices—like activity trackers and sensors—that allowed patients to continue participating in clinical trials from the safety of their homes. Utilizing this technology allowed us to conduct completely virtual studies and, most importantly, minimize the disruptions to non-COVID clinical research and the projected loss of several years’ worth of clinical trial research.
Through a collaboration with Microsoft, the PRA Health Sciences Health Harmony COVID-19 Monitoring Program used digital technology to provide users with access to a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot. Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the chatbot can evaluate users’ symptoms and suggest what level of COVID-19 care might be needed. This innovation puts health in the individual’s hands and is a jumping-off point for future innovative models of care.
In October 2020, we received grants and contracts to work with two academic research institutions—Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and the University of Washington in Seattle—to provide project management, remote monitoring, and clinical research services to support ongoing COVID-19 studies.
“We are proud to always embody a patient-centric mindset, especially in the fight against COVID-19,” says Nicole Duffey, SVP, Strategic Solutions Division. “Our employees have gone above and beyond both in and out of the office, innovating and volunteering to help those most impacted by the pandemic. We look forward to supporting even more work to combat COVID-19 in the year to come.”
Protect. Invest. Together.
Through the “Protect. Invest. Together.” campaign, the WHO is calling on the public to support the health and care workers who have supported us for the past year.
The primary objectives of the campaign—ensuring health and care worker priority vaccination, recognizing those workers who lost their lives during the pandemic, protecting the rights of health and care workers to have safe work and practice environments, and bringing together communities to encourage political and social support and solidarity with health and care workers—represent a tangible investment in the health and care worker workforce, and, importantly, go beyond offering regular praise and nightly applause.
Health and healthcare workers are paramount to a healthy, functional society. At PRA Health Sciences, we stand committed to supporting those health and care workers, from the front lines to the lab.
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