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Compr Psychiatry ; 116: 152321, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1814287


BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers (HCWs) have experienced anxiety and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. We established and report findings from an occupational health programme for HCWs in Zimbabwe that offered screening for SARS-CoV-2 with integrated screening for comorbidities including common mental disorder (CMD) and referral for counselling. METHODS: Quantitative outcomes were fearfulness about COVID-19, the Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ-14) score (cutpoint 8/14) and the number and proportion of HCWs offered referral for counselling, accepting referral and counselled. We used chi square tests to identify factors associated with fearfulness, and logistic regression was used to model the association of fearfulness with wave, adjusting for variables identified using a DAG. Qualitative data included 18 in-depth interviews, two workshops conducted with HCWs and written feedback from counsellors, analysed concurrently with data collection using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Between 27 July 2020-31 July 2021, spanning three SARS-CoV-2 waves, the occupational health programme was accessed by 3577 HCWs from 22 facilities. The median age was 37 (IQR 30-43) years, 81.9% were women, 41.7% said they felt fearful about COVID-19 and 12.1% had an SSQ-14 score ≥ 8. A total of 501 HCWs were offered referral for counselling, 78.4% accepted and 68.9% had ≥1 counselling session. Adjusting for setting and role, wave 2 was associated with increased fearfulness over wave 1 (OR = 1.26, 95% CI 1.00-1.60). Qualitative data showed high levels of anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms and burnout related to the pandemic. Mental wellbeing was affected by financial insecurity, unmet physical health needs and inability to provide quality care within a fragile health system. CONCLUSIONS: HCWs in Zimbabwe experience a high burden of mental health symptoms, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sustainable mental health interventions must be multisectoral addressing mental, physical and financial wellbeing.

COVID-19 , Occupational Health Services , Psychological Distress , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Health Personnel/psychology , Humans , Male , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Zimbabwe/epidemiology
PLoS One ; 16(11): e0260261, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1528726


BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In low- and middle- income countries, they may be particularly impacted by underfunded health systems, lack of personal protective equipment, challenging working conditions and barriers in accessing personal healthcare. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, occupational health screening was implemented at the largest public sector medical centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, during the "first wave" of the country's COVID-19 epidemic. Clients were voluntarily screened for symptoms of COVID-19, and if present, offered a SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid detection assay. In addition, measurement of height, weight, blood pressure and HbA1c, HIV and TB testing, and mental health screening using the Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ-14) were offered. An interviewer-administered questionnaire ascertained client knowledge and experiences related to COVID-19. RESULTS: Between 27th July and 30th October 2020, 951 healthcare workers accessed the service; 210 (22%) were tested for SARS-CoV-2, of whom 12 (5.7%) tested positive. Clients reported high levels of concern about COVID-19 which declined with time, and faced barriers including lack of resources for infection prevention and control. There was a high prevalence of largely undiagnosed non-communicable disease: 61% were overweight or obese, 34% had a blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above, 10% had an HbA1c diagnostic of diabetes, and 7% had an SSQ-14 score consistent with a common mental disorder. Overall 8% were HIV-positive, with 97% previously diagnosed and on treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Cases of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers mirrored the national epidemic curve. Implementation of comprehensive occupational health services during a pandemic was feasible, and uptake was high. Other comorbidities were highly prevalent, which may be risk factors for severe COVID-19 but are also important independent causes of morbidity and mortality. Healthcare workers are critical to combatting COVID-19; it is essential to support their physical and psychological wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Delivery of Health Care/standards , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Health Services/standards , Occupational Health/standards , Personal Protective Equipment/standards , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Zimbabwe/epidemiology
Bull World Health Organ ; 99(2): 85-91, 2021 Feb 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1261333


OBJECTIVE: To investigate community and health-care workers' perspectives on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and on early pandemic responses during the first 2 weeks of national lockdown in Zimbabwe. METHODS: Rapid qualitative research was carried out between March and April 2020 via phone interviews with one representative from each of four community-based organizations and 16 health-care workers involved in a trial of community-based services for young people. In addition, information on COVID-19 was collected from social media platforms, news outlets and government announcements. Data were analysed thematically. FINDINGS: Four themes emerged: (i) individuals were overloaded with information but lacked trusted sources, which resulted in widespread fear and unanswered questions; (ii) communities had limited ability to comply with prevention measures, such as social distancing, because access to long-term food supplies and water at home was limited and because income had to be earned daily; (iii) health-care workers perceived themselves to be vulnerable and undervalued because of a shortage of personal protective equipment and inadequate pay; and (iv) other health conditions were sidelined because resources were redirected, with potentially wide-reaching implications. CONCLUSION: It is important that prevention measures against COVID-19 are appropriate for the local context. In Zimbabwe, communities require support with basic needs and access to reliable information to enable them to follow prevention measures. In addition, health-care workers urgently need personal protective equipment and adequate salaries. Essential health-care services and medications for conditions other than COVID-19 must also continue to be provided to help reduce excess mortality and morbidity.

COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/psychology , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Community Health Services/organization & administration , Health Personnel , Access to Information , Humans , Pandemics , Personal Protective Equipment/supply & distribution , Qualitative Research , Salaries and Fringe Benefits , Zimbabwe