Soosmita Sinha is the Founder and President of the Health Law Institute (HLI), Geneva, Switzerland, and a board member of the International Network for Health Workforce Educators (INHWE). She holds a pharmacy degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and a JD from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA and is currently licensed as both a pharmacist and lawyer in Michigan, USA. Her professional experience spans both public and private sectors in different geographical locations – Nigeria, United States and the United Nations in Geneva. She has lived in four different continents, speaks multiple languages and is passionate about health worker rights, universal access to healthcare, and advocates health workers as key actors in health system strengthening. In her spare time, she coaches startups and enjoys mentoring younger professionals. #Dignity4HW #HW4HSS
COVID-19 and gender issues – The case of older health workers
Dr. Kimberly Ashby-Mitchell is a Public Health Scientist whose research interests centre on nutrition and health disease outcomes throughout the lifecourse, healthy ageing, health education and promotion.
She is currently a full-time lecturer in the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre at the University of the West Indies (Jamaica Campus). Dr. Ashby-Mitchell has also worked at the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute and has also served as a Consultant in the Nutrition Policy and Scientic Advice Unit at the World Health Organization in Geneva.
Most recently, she was a member of the WHO guideline development group for risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia, Kimberly is also an Associate Editor for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
She has over ten years of experience as a public health researcher and was formerly based at the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at the Australian National University (ANU). She also received her doctoral degree from the ANU where her thesis titled `Cognitive Impairment in Australia and Latin American and Caribbean Countries: Life Expectancy, Diet and Physical Activity and the Potential for Prevention’ earned her the award for “Best ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) PhD Award 2016”.
In her free time Kimberly enjoys reading, scrapbooking and travelling.
Peter J. Illig is an accomplished nonprofit executive with a unique mix of global business, legal and communication skills. He currently serves as CEO and General Counsel of the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP), overseeing the highest-level certification recognized by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the delivery of the Social Model of Care to aging persons.
Mr. Illig previously served as General Counsel and Director of External Relations for World Scouting, where he created and oversaw global grant programs, risk management and youth protection for 7 global offices serving more than 200 national organizations. He also created multiple global partnerships with International Organizations including a showcase program to deliver 1 billion hours in service projects supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. Illig has served as a Human Rights Attorney in Geneva, Switzerland with Franciscans International, as Executive Director of the philanthropic foundation of the global med-tech company Stryker and as Executive Director of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment where he provided inputs to the EU Departments of Health and Environment in Brussels on the linkages between environment and health.
Admitted to the New York Bar, he holds a LLM in International Law from the London Program of the University of Notre Dame Law School and a JD from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law. Mr. Illig serves as an Advisor and Board Member to the Advancing Excellence in Long-Term Care Collaborative, the National Intergenerational Montessori Center and ARTDO International.
Soosmita Sinha, Health Law Institute, United States
Kimberly Ashby-Mitchell, Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Peter J. Illig, National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP), United States
The global health workforce combatting Covid-19 consists of more than 70% of women working at the frontline and a high number of older workers. WHO estimates that in Europe 36% of health workers are aged 55 years and more; in the USA, 42 % of physicians are estimated to be 55 years and older (AMA 2015).
The Covid-19 crisis, in addition to the havoc it has created in the general population, has ravaged a health workforce suffering from severe shortages. They include understaffing, lack of safe and decent work conditions, such as personal protective equipment shortages, inadequate essential hygiene products, excessive working hours, low or no wages, lack of sick leave and breaks. These deficiencies have led to very high infection and mortality rates of health workers, mainly women, compared to the general population. In addition, gender and age discrimination is often impacting on the physical and mental health and undermine addressing the pandemic effectively. The stress for the many female health workers combatting Covid-19 is further worsened by the growing need for unpaid care during the pandemic as they need to fill in as care workers for their own family members. As a result, the disregard of core labor standards and human rights have left older female health workers most vulnerable.
This Symposium will assess legal, institutional, and societal structures resulting in adverse impacts on older women health workers, and deliberate practices for an enabling environment and resilient workforce. It will also provide a platform to discuss needed innovation and change in the context of the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030. The results will nourish the Call for action of the 15th IFA Conference on Ageing.
Key issues to be addressed include the role of older health workers as victims and vectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, their paid and unpaid work as part of COVID-19 high risk groups, the burden of work and working conditions as well as rights at the Covid-19 frontline, such as social protection, quarantine and paid sick leave. These issues will be discussed with a view to creating an enabling working environment that is free of stigmatization, discrimination, abuse and harassment.
The Symposium will be moderated by the IFA Secretary General, Jane Barratt, and include a keynote by the President of the Health Law Institute, Soosmita Sinha. A panel and open discussion will reflect views from various perspectives and regions.