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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
BMJ Open ; 10(12): e039546, 2020 12 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1228877


OBJECTIVE: Post-randomisation exclusions in randomised controlled trials are common and may include participants identified as not meeting trial eligibility criteria after randomisation. We report how a decision might be reached and reported on, to include or exclude these participants. We illustrate using a motivating scenario from the BREATHE trial (Trial registration, NCT02426112) evaluating azithromycin for the treatment of chronic lung disease in people aged 6-19 years with HIV in Zimbabwe and Malawi. KEY POINTS: Including all enrolled and randomised participants in the primary analysis of a trial ensures an unbiased estimate of the intervention effect using intention-to-treat principles, and minimises the effects of confounding through balanced allocation to trial arm. Ineligible participants are sometimes enrolled, due to measurement or human error. Of 347 participants enrolled into the BREATHE trial, 11 (3.2%) were subsequently found to be ineligible based on lung function criteria. We assumed no safety risk of azithromycin treatment; their inclusion in the trial and subsequent analysis of the intervention effect therefore mirrors clinical practice. Senior trial investigators considered diurnal variations in the measurement of lung function, advantages of retaining a higher sample size and advice from the Data Safety and Monitoring Board and Trial Steering Committee, and decided to include these participants in primary analysis. We planned and reported analyses including and excluding these participants, and in our case the interpretation of treatment effect was consistent. CONCLUSION: The decision, by senior investigators, on whether to exclude enrolled participants, should reflect issues of safety, treatment efficacy, statistical power and measurement error. As long as decisions are made prior to finalising the statistical analysis plan for the trial, the risk of exclusions creating bias should be minimal. The decision taken should be transparently reported and a sensitivity analysis can present the opposite decision.

COVID-19 , Adolescent , Adult , Child , Humans , Malawi , SARS-CoV-2 , Treatment Outcome , Young Adult , Zimbabwe