Healthcare system inputs and patient-reported outcomes: a study in adults with congenital heart defect from 15 countries

Abstract Background

The relationship between healthcare system inputs (e.g., human resources and infrastructure) and mortality has been extensively studied. However, the association between healthcare system inputs and patient-reported outcomes remains unclear. Hence, we explored the predictive value of human resources and infrastructures of the countries’ healthcare system on patient-reported outcomes in adults with congenital heart disease.

Methods

This cross-sectional study included 3588 patients with congenital heart disease (median age = 31y; IQR = 16.0; 52% women; 26% simple, 49% moderate, and 25% complex defects) from 15 countries. The following patient-reported outcomes were measured: perceived physical and mental health, psychological distress, health behaviors, and quality of life. The assessed inputs of the healthcare system were: (i) human resources (i.e., density of physicians and nurses, both per 1000 people) and (ii) infrastructure (i.e., density of hospital beds per 10,000 people). Univariable, multivariable, and sensitivity analyses using general linear mixed models were conducted, adjusting for patient-specific variables and unmeasured country differences.

Results

Sensitivity analyses showed that higher density of physicians was significantly associated with better self-reported physical and mental health, less psychological distress, and better quality of life. A greater number of nurses was significantly associated with better self-reported physical health, less psychological distress, and less risky health behavior. No associations between a higher density of hospital beds and patient-reported outcomes were observed.

Conclusions

This explorative study suggests that density of human resources for health, measured on country level, are associated with patient-reported outcomes in adults with congenital heart disease. More research needs to be conducted before firm conclusions about the relationships observed can be drawn.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02150603. Registered 30 May 2014,

Categorías: Investigaciones

Malaria outbreak investigation in a rural area south of Zimbabwe: a case–control study

Abstract Background

Ninety percent of the global annual malaria mortality cases emanate from the African region. About 80–90% of malaria transmissions in sub-Saharan Africa occur indoors during the night. In Zimbabwe, 79% of the population are at risk of contracting the disease. Although the country has made significant progress towards malaria elimination, isolated seasonal outbreaks persistently resurface. In 2017, Beitbridge District was experiencing a second malaria outbreak within 12 months prompting the need for investigating the outbreak.

Methods

An unmatched 1:1 case–control study was conducted to establish the risk factors associated with contracting malaria in Ward 6 of Beitbridge District from week 36 to week 44 of 2017. The sample size constituted of 75 randomly selected cases and 75 purposively selected controls. Data were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire and Epi Info version 7.2.1.0 was used to conduct descriptive, bivariate and multivariate analyses of the factors associated with contracting malaria.

Results

Fifty-two percent of the cases were females and the mean age of cases was 29 ± 13 years. Cases were diagnosed using rapid diagnostic tests. Sleeping in a house with open eaves (OR: 2.97; 95% CI 1.44–6.16; p < 0.01), spending the evenings outdoors (OR: 2.24; 95% CI 1.04–4.85; p = 0.037) and sleeping in a poorly constructed house (OR: 4.33; 95% CI 1.97–9.51; p < 0.01) were significantly associated with contracting malaria while closing eaves was protective (OR: 0.45; 95% CI 0.20–1.02; p = 0.055). After using backward stepwise logistic regression, sleeping in a poorly constructed house was associated with five-fold odds of getting sick from malaria (AOR: 8.40; 95% CI 1.69–41.66; p = 0.009). Those who had mosquito nets did not use them consistently. The district health team and the rural health centre were well prepared to response despite having limited human resources.

Conclusion

Health promotion messages should emphasize the importance of closing the entry points of the malaria vector, and the construction of better houses in the future. Residents had to be educated in the importance of consistent use of mosquito nets. The district had to improve malaria preventive measures like distribution of mosquito nets and lobby for more human resources to assist with malaria surveillance thus, curbing the recurrence of malaria outbreaks.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Beyond coverage: a qualitative study exploring the perceived impact of Gabon’s health insurance plan on access to and quality of prenatal care

Abstract Background

Access to affordable and adequate healthcare in a health system determines the universal health coverage achievement for all residents in a country. Achieving access to healthcare requires the availability of a financing system that ensures access to and provision of adequate care, regardless of the ability to pay. In sub-Saharan Africa, accessibility, use and coverage of prenatal visits are very low and poor, which reduces the quality of care. This paper explored the impact of a social health insurance scheme on the quality of antenatal care in Gabon.

Methods

This qualitative study involved the analysis of data collected from semi-structured interviews and non-participant observations to assess the quality of antenatal care. The study elicited perceptions on the demand side (pregnant women) and the supply side (health professionals) in health facilities. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with pregnant women (aged between 15 and 49) and 5 with health professionals, who each had a seniority of at least 10 years, at different levels of care. Nine non-participant observations were also conducted. Coded transcripts were reviewed and analyzed using the Canadian Institute for Public Administration of Citizen-Centered Services model as an analytical guide.

Results

On the demand side, women were generally satisfied with the prenatal services they receive in health facilities. However, complaints were made about the rudeness of some nurses, the high price of the delivery kit (50,000 XAF), and the fact that some essential medicines for maternity are not covered. On the supply side, participants agreed that compulsory health insurance is important in providing antenatal care access to those who need it the most. However, some problems remain. The participants outlined some logistical problems and a lack of medical equipment, including the stock of drugs, disinfectants, and the absence of clean water.

Conclusion

Understanding the perceptions of pregnant women and health professionals regarding the quality of antenatal care can help to inform refinements to methods through which the services can be better provided. In addition, the study findings are vital to increasing the use of care, as well as combating high maternal mortality rates. Compulsory health insurance has improved the accessibility and utilization of healthcare services and has contributed to improved quality of care.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Gender inequality in the health workforce in the midst of achieving universal health coverage in Mexico

Abstract Background

The third Sustainable Development Goal aims to ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all at all ages. The health system plays a key role in achieving these goals and must have sufficient human resources in order to provide care to the population according to their needs and expectations.

Methods

This paper explores the issues of unemployment, underemployment, and labor wastage in physicians and nurses in Mexico, all of which serve as barriers to achieving universal health coverage. We conducted a descriptive, observational, and longitudinal study to analyze the rates of employment, underemployment, unemployment, and labor wastage during the period 2005–2017 by gender. We used data from the National Occupation and Employment Survey. Calculating the average annual rates (AAR) for the period, we describe trends of the calculated rates. In addition, for 2017, we calculated health workforce densities for each of the 32 Mexican states and estimated the gaps with respect to the threshold of 4.45 health workers per 1000 inhabitants, as proposed in the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health.

Results

The AAR of employed female physicians was lower than men, and the AARs of qualitative underemployment, unemployment, and labor wastage for female physicians are higher than those of men. Female nurses, however, had a higher AAR in employment than male nurses and a lower AAR of qualitative underemployment and unemployment rates. Both female physicians and nurses showed a higher AAR in labor wastage rates than men. The density of health workers per 1000 inhabitants employed in the health sector was 4.20, and the estimated deficit of workers needed to match the threshold proposed in the Global Strategy is 70 161 workers distributed among the 16 states that do not reach the threshold.

Conclusions

We provide evidence of the existence of gender gaps among physicians and nurses in the labor market with evident disadvantages for female physicians, particularly in labor wastage. In addition, our results suggest that the lack of physicians and nurses working in the health sector contributes to the inability to reach the health worker density threshold proposed by the Global Strategy.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Reimagining the role of the nursing workforce in Uganda after more than a decade of ART scale-up

Abstract Background

The expanding roles and increasing importance of the nursing workforce in health services delivery in resource-limited settings is not adequately documented and sufficiently recognized in the current literature. Drawing upon the theme of 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we set out to describe how the role of nurses expanded tremendously in health facilities in Uganda during the era of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) scale-up that commenced in June 2004.

Methods

We employed a mixed-methods sequential explanatory research design. Phase I entailed a cross-sectional health facility survey (n = 195) to assess the extent to which human resource management strategies (such as task shifting) were common. Phase II entailed a qualitative multiple case study of 16 (of the 195) health facilities for an in-depth understanding of the strategies adopted (e.g. nurse-centred HIV care). Descriptive analyses were performed in STATA (v 13) while qualitative data were analysed by thematic approach.

Results

We found that nurses were the most represented cadre of health workers involved in the overall leadership of HIV clinics across Uganda. Most nurse-led HIV clinics were based in rural settings; however, this trend was fairly even across setting (rural/urban/peri-urban). While 181 (93%) health facilities allowed non-physician cadre to prescribe ART, a number of health facilities (n = 36) or 18% deliberately adopted nurse-led HIV care models. Nurses were empowered to be multi-skilled with a wide range of competencies across the HIV care continuum right from HIV testing to mainstream clinical HIV disease management. In several facilities, nursing cadre were the backbone of ART service delivery. A select number of facilities devised differentiated models of task shifting from physicians to nurses in which the latter handled patients who were stable on ART.

Conclusion

Overall, our study reveals a wide expansion in the scope-of-practice of nurses during ART scale-up in Uganda. Nurses were thrust in roles of HIV disease management that were traditionally the preserve of physicians. Our study underscores the importance of reforming regulatory frameworks governing nursing workforce scope of practice such as the need for developing a policy on task shifting which is currently lacking in Uganda.

Categorías: Investigaciones

How is increased selectivity of medical school admissions associated with physicians’ career choice? A Japanese experience

Abstract Background

During the long-lasting economic stagnation, the popularity of medical school has dramatically increased among pre-medical students in Japan. This is primarily due to the belief that medicine is generally a recession-proof career. As a result, pre-medical students today who want to enter medical school have to pass a more rigorous entrance examination than that in the 1980s. This paper explores the association between the selectivity of medical school admissions and graduates’ later career choices.

Methods

A unique continuous measure of the selectivity of medical school admissions from 1980 to 2017, which is defined as the deviation value of medical schools, was merged with cross-sectional data of 122 990 physicians aged 35 to 55 years. The association between the deviation value of medical schools and various measures of physicians’ career choices was explored by logistic and ordinary least square regression models. Graduates from medical schools in which the deviation value was less than 55 were compared with those from more competitive medical schools, after controlling for fixed effects for the medical school attended by binary variables.

Results

From 1980 to 2017, the average deviation value increased from 58.3 to 66.3, indicating a large increase in admission selectivity. Empirical results suggest that increasing selectivity of a medical school is associated with graduates having a higher probability of choosing a career in an acute hospital as well as having a lower probability of opening their own clinic and choosing a career in primary health care. Graduating from a highly competitive medical school (i.e., deviation value of more than 65) significantly increases the probability of working at typical acute hospitals such as so-called 7:1 hospitals (OR 1.665 2, 95%CI 1.444 0–1.920 4) and decreases the probability of working at primary care facilities (OR 0.602 6, 95%CI 0.441 2–0.823 0). It is also associated with graduates having a higher probability of becoming medical board certified (OR 1.294 6, 95%CI 1.108 8–1.511 4).

Conclusion

Overall, this paper concludes that increased selectivity of medical school admissions predicts a higher quality of physicians in their own specialty, but at the same time, it is associated with a lower supply of physicians who go into primary care.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Redressing the gender imbalance: a qualitative analysis of recruitment and retention in Mozambique’s community health workforce

Abstract Background

Mozambique’s community health programme has a disproportionate number of male community health workers (known as Agentes Polivalentes Elementares (APEs)). The Government of Mozambique is aiming to increase the proportion of females to constitute 60% to improve maternal and child health outcomes. To understand the imbalance, this study explored the current recruitment processes for APEs and how these are shaped by gender norms, roles and relations, as well as how they influence the experience and retention of APEs in Maputo Province, Mozambique.

Methods

We employed qualitative methods with APEs, APE supervisors, community leaders and a government official in two districts within Maputo Province. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and translated. A coding framework was developed in accordance with thematic analysis to synthesise the findings.

Findings

In-depth interviews (n = 30), key informant interviews (n = 1) and focus group discussions (n = 3) captured experiences and perceptions of employment processes. Intra-household decision-making structures mean women may experience additional barriers to join the APE programme, often requiring their husband’s consent. Training programmes outside of the community were viewed positively as an opportunity to build a cohort. However, women reported difficulty leaving family responsibilities behind, and men reported challenges in providing for their families during training as other income-generating opportunities were not available to them. These dynamics were particularly acute in the case of single mothers, serving both a provider and primary carer role. Differences in attrition by gender were reported: women are likely to leave the programme when they marry, whereas men tend to leave when offered another job with a higher salary. Age and geographic location were also important intersecting factors: younger male and female APEs seek employment opportunities in neighbouring South Africa, whereas older APEs are more content to remain.

Conclusion

Gender norms, roles and power dynamics intersect with other axes of inequity such as marital status, age and geographic location to impact recruitment and retention of APEs in Maputo Province, Mozambique. Responsive policies to support gender equity within APE recruitment processes are required to support and retain a gender-equitable APE cadre.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Medical schools in India: pattern of establishment and impact on public health - a Geographic Information System (GIS) based exploratory study

Abstract Background

Indian medical education system is on the brink of a massive reform. The government of India has recently passed the National Medical Commission Bill (NMC Bill). It seeks to eliminate the existing shortage and maldistribution of health professionals in India. It also encourages establishment of medical schools in underserved areas. Hence this study explores the geographic distribution of medical schools in India to identify such under and over served areas. Special emphasis has been given to the mapping of new medical schools opened in the last decade to identify the ongoing pattern of expansion of medical education sector in India.

Methods

All medical schools retrieved from the online database of Medical Council of India were plotted on the map of India using geographic information system. Their pattern of establishment was identified. Medical school density was calculated to analyse the effect of medical school distribution on health care indicators.

Results

Presence of medical schools had a positive influence on the public health profile. But medical schools were not evenly distributed in the country. The national average medical school density in India amounted to 4.08 per 10 million population. Medical school density of provinces revealed a wide range from 0 (Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep) to 72.12 (Puducherry). Medical schools were seen to be clustered in the vicinity of major cities as well as provincial capitals. Distance matrix revealed that the median distance of a new medical school from its nearest old medical school was just 22.81 Km with an IQR of 6.29 to 56.86 Km.

Conclusions

This study revealed the mal-distribution of medical schools in India. The problem is further compounded by selective opening of new medical schools within the catchment area of already established medical schools. Considering that medical schools showed a positive influence on public health, further research is needed to guide formulation of rules for medical school establishment in India.

Categorías: Investigaciones

COVID-19 in Africa: care and protection for frontline healthcare workers.

Global Health;16(1): 46, 2020 May 15. . [Artigo]

Categorías: Investigaciones

Identifying, Prioritizing and Visually Mapping Barriers to Injury Care in Rwanda: A Multi-disciplinary Stakeholder Exercise

Abstract Background

Whilst injuries are a major cause of disability and death worldwide, a large proportion of people in low- and middle-income countries lack timely access to injury care. Barriers to accessing care from the point of injury to return to function have not been delineated.

Methods

A two-day workshop was held in Kigali, Rwanda in May 2019 with representation from health providers, academia, and government. A four delays model (delays to seeking, reaching, receiving, and remaining in care) was applied to injury care. Participants identified barriers at each delay and graded, through consensus, their relative importance. Following an iterative voting process, the four highest priority barriers were identified. Based on workshop findings and a scoping review, a map was created to visually represent injury care access as a complex health-system problem.

Results

Initially, 42 barriers were identified by the 34 participants. 19 barriers across all four delays were assigned high priority; highest-priority barriers were “Training and retention of specialist staff”, “Health education/awareness of injury severity”, “Geographical coverage of referral trauma centres”, and “Lack of protocol for bypass to referral centres”. The literature review identified evidence relating to 14 of 19 high-priority barriers. Most barriers were mapped to more than one of the four delays, visually represented in a complex health-system map.

Conclusion

Overcoming barriers to ensure access to quality injury care requires a multifaceted approach which considers the whole patient journey from injury to rehabilitation. Our results can guide researchers and policymakers planning future interventions.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Remote Peer Learning Between US and Cambodian Lay Health Workers to Improve Outcomes for Cambodians with Type 2 Diabetes: a Pilot Study

Abstract Background

This paper reports a single-group, pre-post pilot of a peer-learning intervention between community health workers (CHWs) in the USA and Village Health Support Guides (Guides) in Cambodia to improve outcomes for Cambodians with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Method

Two US-based CHWs were trained in a culturally derived cardiometabolic education curriculum called Eat, Walk, Sleep (EWS) and they were also trained in principles of peer learning. They in turn trained five Cambodia-based Guides remotely through videoconference with a phablet in EWS. Finally, Cambodia-based Guides met with 58 patients with diabetes, face-to-face in their villages, monthly for 6 months to deliver EWS. US-based CHWs and Cambodia-based Guides responded to surveys at baseline and post-treatment. Patients responded to surveys and provided blood pressure and blood samples at baseline and post-treatment.

Results

For US-based CHWs, scores on all surveys of diabetes knowledge, self-evaluation, job satisfaction, and information technology improved, though no statistical tests were run due to sample size. For Cambodia-based Guides, all scores on these same measures improved except for job satisfaction. For patients, n = 60 consented, 2 withdrew, and 7 were lost to follow-up leaving n = 51 for analysis. In paired t tests, patients showed significantly decreased A1c, decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressures, improved attitudes toward medicines, and a trend for switching from all-white to part-brown rice. No changes were detected in self-reported physical activity, medication adherence, sleep quality, or frequency or amount of rice consumed.

Conclusion

If proven effective in a controlled trial, cross-country peer learning could eventually help other diaspora communities.

Categorías: Investigaciones

HIV understanding, experiences and perceptions of HIV-positive men who have sex with men in Amazonian Peru: a qualitative study

Abstract Background

HIV-related incidence and mortality is increasing across Peru, with highest mortality rates recorded in the Amazonian region of Loreto. This epidemic is concentrated in men who have sex with men, a population with 14% HIV treatment adherence despite free national provision. This study investigates barriers and facilitators to following healthcare advice through experiences and perceptions of HIV-positive men who have sex with men and healthcare professionals in Loreto.

Methods

Twenty qualitative interviews with HIV-positive men who have sex with men and one focus group with HIV-specialist healthcare professionals were conducted in Loreto, January–February 2019. Interviews were transcribed per verbatim. Thematic content analysis and deviant case analysis were used.

Results

A culture of isolation and discrimination was identified, propagated by poor public knowledge surrounding HIV transmission and treatment. Employment potential was hampered and 7/20 patients had suicidal thoughts post-diagnosis. Barriers to care included: shame, depression, travel cost/times, a preference for traditional plant-based medicine and side-effects of antiretroviral therapy. Facilitators included: education, family and clinic support, disease acceptance and lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

More effective, focussed community education and workplace discrimination investigations are recommended to reduce stigma and increase adherence to treatment in this population.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Female clients’ gender preferences for frontline health workers who provide maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services at primary health care level in Nigeria

Abstract Background

In Nigeria, anecdotes abound that female clients, particularly within northern Nigeria, have gender-based preferences for frontline health workers (FLHWs) who provide healthcare services. This may adversely affect uptake of maternal newborn and child health services, especially at primary healthcare level in Nigeria, where a huge proportion of the Nigerian population and rural community members in particular, access healthcare services. This study explored female clients’ gender preferences for frontline health workers who provide maternal, newborn and child healthcare (MNCH) services at primary healthcare level in Nigeria.

Methods

The study adopted a cross-sectional quantitative design with 256 female clients’ exit interviews from selected primary health facilities within two States - Bauchi (northern Nigeria) and Cross-River (southern Nigeria). Data was collected using Personal Digital Assistants and data analysis was done using SPSS software. Descriptive analysis was carried out using percentage frequency distribution tables. Bivariate analysis was also carried out to examine possible relationships between key characteristic variables and the gender preferences of female clients involved in the study.

Results

Out of 256 women who accessed maternal, newborn and child health services within the sampled health facilities, 44.1% stated preference for female FLHWs, 2.3% preferred male FLHWs while 53.5% were indifferent about the gender of the health worker. However only 26.6% of female clients were attended to by male FLHWs. Bivariate analysis suggests a relationship between a female client’s health worker gender preference and her pregnancy status, the specific reason for which a female client visits a primary healthcare facility, a female client’s location in Nigeria as well as the gender of the health worker(s) working within the primary healthcare facility which she visits to access maternal, newborn and child health services.

Conclusions

The study findings suggest that female clients at primary healthcare level in Nigeria possibly have gender preferences for the frontline health workers who provide services to them. There should be sustained advocacy and increased efforts at community engagement to promote the acceptability of healthcare services from male frontline health workers in order to have a significant impact on the uptake of MNCH services, particularly within northern Nigeria.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Adapting a health video library for use in Afghanistan: provider-level acceptability and lessons for strengthening operational feasibility

Abstract Background

Community health workers (CHWs) in Afghanistan are a critical care extender for primary health services, including reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) care. However, volunteer CHWs face challenges including an ever-expanding number of tasks and insufficient time to conduct them. We piloted a health video library (HVL) intervention, a tablet-based tool to improve health promotion and counseling by CHWs. We qualitatively assessed provider-level acceptability and operational feasibility.

Methods

CHWs implemented the HVL pilot in three rural districts of Balkh, Herat, and Kandahar provinces. We employed qualitative methods, conducting 47 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with male and female CHWs and six IDIs with community health supervisors. We used semi-structured interview guides to explore provider perceptions of program implementation processes and solicit feedback on how to improve the HVL intervention to inform scale-up. We conducted a thematic analysis.

Results

CHWs reported that the HVL increased time efficiencies, reduced work burden, and enhanced professional credibility within their communities. CHWs felt video content and format were accessible for low literacy clients, but also identified challenges to operational feasibility. Although tablets were considered easy-to-use, certain technical issues required continued support from supervisors and family. Charging tablets was difficult due to inconsistent electricity access. Although some CHWs reported reaching most households in their catchment area for visits with the HVL, others were unable to visit all households due to sizeable populations and gender-related barriers, including women’s limited mobility.

Conclusions

The HVL was acceptable and feasible for integration into existing CHW duties, indicating it may improve RMNCH counseling, contributing to increased care-seeking behaviors in Afghanistan. Short-term challenges with technology and hardware can be addressed through continued training and provision of solar chargers. Longer-term challenges, including tablet costs, community coverage, and gender issues, require further consideration with an emphasis on equitable distribution.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Mapping the peer-reviewed literature on accommodating nurses’ return to work after leaves of absence for mental health issues: a scoping review

Abstract Background

The complexity of nursing practice increases the risk of nurses suffering from mental health issues, such as substance use disorders, anxiety, burnout, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These mental health issues can potentially lead to nurses taking leaves of absence and may require accommodations for their return to work. The purpose of this review was to map key themes in the peer-reviewed literature about accommodations for nurses’ return to work following leaves of absence for mental health issues.

Methods

A six-step methodological framework for scoping reviews was used to summarize the amount, types, sources, and distribution of the literature. The academic literature was searched through nine electronic databases. Electronic charts were used to extract code and collate the data. Findings were derived inductively and summarized thematically and numerically.

Results

Academic literature is scarce regarding interventions for nurses’ return to work following leaves of absence for mental health issues, and most focused on substance use concerns. Search of the peer-reviewed literature yielded only six records. The records were primarily quantitative studies (n = 4, 68%), published between 1997 and 2018, and originated in the United States (n = 6, 100%). The qualitative thematic findings addressed three major themes: alternative to discipline programs (ADPs), peer support, and return to work policies, procedures, and practices.

Conclusions

While the literature supports alternative to discipline programs as a primary accommodation supporting return to work of nurses, more on the effectiveness of such programs is required. Empirical evidence is necessary to develop, maintain, and refine much needed return to work accommodations for nurses after leaves of absence for mental health issues.

Categorías: Investigaciones

Checklist for the Management of Human Resources for Health in Response to COVID-19, 15 April 2020

Washington, D.C.; PAHO; 2020-04-15. (PAHO/HSS/HR/COVID-19/20-0013).

Categorías: Investigaciones

Checklist for the Management of Human Resources for Health in Response to COVID-19, 6 May 2020

Washington, D.C.; PAHO; 2020-05-06. (PAHO/HSS/HR/COVID-19/20-0011).

Categorías: Investigaciones

COVID-19 in Africa: care and protection for frontline healthcare workers

Abstract

Medical staff caring for COVID-19 patients face mental stress, physical exhaustion, separation from families, stigma, and the pain of losing patients and colleagues. Many of them have acquired SARS-CoV-2 and some have died. In Africa, where the pandemic is escalating, there are major gaps in response capacity, especially in human resources and protective equipment. We examine these challenges and propose interventions to protect healthcare workers on the continent, drawing on articles identified on Medline (Pubmed) in a search on 24 March 2020. Global jostling means that supplies of personal protective equipment are limited in Africa. Even low-cost interventions such as facemasks for patients with a cough and water supplies for handwashing may be challenging, as is ‘physical distancing’ in overcrowded primary health care clinics. Without adequate protection, COVID-19 mortality may be high among healthcare workers and their family in Africa given limited critical care beds and difficulties in transporting ill healthcare workers from rural to urban care centres. Much can be done to protect healthcare workers, however. The continent has learnt invaluable lessons from Ebola and HIV control. HIV counselors and community healthcare workers are key resources, and could promote social distancing and related interventions, dispel myths, support healthcare workers, perform symptom screening and trace contacts. Staff motivation and retention may be enhanced through carefully managed risk ‘allowances’ or compensation. International support with personnel and protective equipment, especially from China, could turn the pandemic’s trajectory in Africa around. Telemedicine holds promise as it rationalises human resources and reduces patient contact and thus infection risks. Importantly, healthcare workers, using their authoritative voice, can promote effective COVID-19 policies and prioritization of their safety. Prioritizing healthcare workers for SARS-CoV-2 testing, hospital beds and targeted research, as well as ensuring that public figures and the population acknowledge the commitment of healthcare workers may help to maintain morale. Clearly there are multiple ways that international support and national commitment could help safeguard healthcare workers in Africa, essential for limiting the pandemic’s potentially devastating heath, socio-economic and security impacts on the continent.

Categorías: Investigaciones

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