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Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(16)2022 08 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2023649


Evidence exists on the health impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic on health workers, but less is known about its impact on their work dynamics and livelihoods. This matters, as health workers-and physicians in particular-are a scarce and expensive resource in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Our cross-sectional survey set out to explore changes in working hours and earnings during the second year of the pandemic in a representative sample of 1183 physicians in Brazil's São Paulo (SP) and Maranhão (MA) states. Descriptive analysis and inferential statistics were employed to explore differences in working hours and earnings among public and private sector physicians across the two locations. The workloads and earnings of doctors working exclusively in the public sector increased the most in the second year of the epidemic, particularly in MA. Conversely, the largest proportion of private-only doctors in our sample saw a decrease in their working hours (48.4%, 95% CI 41.8-55.0), whereas the largest proportion of public-only doctors in MA saw an increase in their working hours (44.4%, 95% CI 38.0-50.8). Although earnings remained broadly stable in the public sector, a third of public sector-only physicians in MA saw an increase in their earnings (95% CI 24.4-36.2). More than half of private-only doctors across both states saw a decrease in their earnings (52.2%, 95% CI 45.6-58.8). The largest proportion of dual practitioners (the majority in Brazil and in our sample) maintained their pre-pandemic levels of income (38.8%, 95% CI 35.3-42.3). As public-sector doctors have been key in the fight against the pandemic, it is critical to invest in these cadres in order to develop epidemic preparedness in LMICs, and to find new ways to harness for-profit actors to deliver social benefits.

COVID-19 , Physicians , Brazil/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Pandemics
PLoS One ; 15(10): e0241017, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-892383


BACKGROUND: Economic recessions carry an impact on population health and access to care; less is known on how health systems adapt to the conditions brought by a downturn. This particularly matters now that the COVID-19 epidemic is putting health systems under stress. Brazil is one of the world's most affected countries, and its health system was already experiencing the aftermath of the 2015 recession. METHODS: Between 2018 and 2019 we conducted 46 semi-structured interviews with health practitioners, managers and policy-makers to explore the impact of the 2015 recession on public and private providers in prosperous (São Paulo) and impoverished (Maranhão) states in Brazil. Thematic analysis was employed to identify drivers and consequences of system adaptation and coping strategies. Nvivo software was used to aid data collection and analysis. We followed the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research to provide an account of the findings. RESULTS: We found the concept of 'health sector crisis' to be politically charged among healthcare providers in São Paulo and Maranhão. Contrary to expectations, the public sector was reported to have found ways to compensate for diminishing federal funding, having outsourced services and adopted flexible-if insecure-working arrangements. Following a drop in employment and health plans, private health insurance companies have streamlined their offer, at times at the expenses of coverage. Low-cost walk-in clinics were hit hard by the recession, but were also credited for having moved to cater for higher-income customers in Maranhão. CONCLUSIONS: The 'plates' of a health system may shift and adjust in unexpected ways in response to recessions, and some of these changes might outlast the crisis. As low-income countries enter post-COVID economic recessions, it will be important to monitor the adjustments taking place in health systems, to ensure that past gains in access to care and job security are not eroded.

Administrative Personnel/psychology , Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections , Economic Recession , Health Care Sector/economics , Health Facility Administrators/psychology , Health Personnel/psychology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Private Sector/economics , Public Sector/economics , Ambulatory Care Facilities/economics , Attitude of Health Personnel , Brazil , COVID-19 , Community Health Services/economics , Developing Countries , Humans , Insurance, Health, Reimbursement , Interviews as Topic , Physicians/psychology , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine , Unemployment