Michael works to improve healthcare access across the globe, but COVID-19 revealed unmet needs a bit closer to home.
As a son and brother to three nurses, what I learned around COVID is the huge impact of our frontline healthcare workers. We take them for granted.
When we talk about access to healthcare, we talk about the prices of drugs, we talk about infrastructure, we talk about a lot of things. We barely talk about the working conditions of healthcare workers, and that absolutely needs to change.
It’s ridiculous what they earn
When we talk about strengthening the healthcare system, it is not only about digital or technology. At the core, it’s about people – specifically our frontline workers. We need a joint, global effort to improve working conditions. We need to improve working hours and salaries; it's ridiculous what they earn. Do you know how many healthcare workers come from a country other than the one they work in, especially here in Europe?
I sense a lot of global energy and passion for helping one another. And I hope this continues. But it will take more than clapping from balconies. I know the intent was good, but it made me angry with all the clapping. I was like “Do something! Start a movement, sign a petition, write a letter to a member of parliament!” I wish we put the same energy in really improving work conditions for healthcare workers all over the world. Because this is a global problem.
Caregiving doesn’t end when the shift ends
Women represent close to 70% of the
Mental health matters
They are essentially left alone with their mental health. I asked my sister: “So where do you get your emotional support?” And she told me “Look, after walking out of here after a 12-hour shift, do you know what I want, what I need? I need a shower. And I don't want to talk.”
With the COVID crisis, a lot of other healthcare needs have been pushed aside, including mental health. It’s not a good thing – not addressing those emotions you're feeling, not talking. I had one phone conversation where my sister started crying, almost out of the blue. So I try to be there for her personally, but this is something where I discovered a need and passion to show up for the larger community of healthcare workers. What can I do personally, and what can we do as Roche? It’s opened my eyes to the realities of a very real issue that impacts nearly every aspect of what we do.