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1.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; : 100519, 2022 Jul 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2015806

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to test health systems resilience worldwide. Low- and middle-income country (LMIC) health care systems have considerable experience in disasters and disease outbreaks. Lessons from the preparedness and responses to COVID-19 in LMICs may be valuable to other countries.This policy paper synthesises findings from a multiphase qualitative research project, conducted during the pandemic to document experiences of Pacific Island Country and Territory (PICT) frontline clinicians and emergency care (EC) stakeholders. Thematic analysis and synthesis of enablers related to each of the Pacific EC systems building blocks identified key factors contributing to strengthened EC systems.Effective health system responses to the COVID-19 pandemic occurred when frontline clinicians and 'decision makers' collaborated with respect and open communication, overcoming healthcare workers' fear and discontent. PICT EC clinicians demonstrated natural leadership and strengthened local EC systems, supporting essential healthcare. Despite resource limitations, PICT cultural strengths of relational connection and innovation ensured health system resilience. COVID-19 significantly disrupted services, with long-tail impacts on non-communicable disease and other health burdens.Lessons learned in responding to COVID-19 can be applied to ongoing health system strengthening initiatives. Optimal systems improvement and sustainability requires EC leaders' involvement in current decision-making as well as future planning. Search strategy and selection criteria: Search strategy and selection criteria We searched PubMed, Google Scholar, Ovid, WHO resources, Pacific and grey literature using search terms 'emergency care', 'acute/critical care', 'health care workers', 'emergency care systems/health systems', 'health system building blocks', 'COVID-19', 'pandemic/surge event/disease outbreaks' 'Low- and Middle-Income Countries', 'Pacific Islands/region' and related terms. Only English-language articles were included. Funding: Phases 1 and 2A of this study were part of an Epidemic Ethics/World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, supported by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office/Wellcome Grant 214711/Z/18/Z. Copyright of the original work on which this publication is based belongs to WHO. The authors have been given permission to publish this manuscript. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the views, decisions or policies of WHO. Co-funding for this research was received from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation via an International Development Fund Grant. RM is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Postgraduate Scholarship and a Monash Graduate Excellence Scholarship. GOR is supported by a NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship. CEB is supported by a University of Queensland Development Research Fellowship. None of these funders played any role in study design, results analysis or manuscript preparation.

2.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; : 100518, 2022 Jul 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914791

ABSTRACT

Background: Universal access to safe, effective emergency care (EC) during the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated its centrality to healthcare systems. The 'Leadership and Governance' building block provides policy, accountability and stewardship to health systems, and is essential to determining effectiveness of pandemic response. This study aimed to explore the experience of leadership and governance during the COVID-19 pandemic from frontline clinicians and stakeholders across the Pacific region. Methods: Australian and Pacific researchers collaborated to conduct this large, qualitative research project in three phases between March 2020 and July 2021. Data was gathered from 116 Pacific regional participants through online support forums, in-depth interviews and focus groups. A phenomenological approach shaped inductive and deductive data analysis, within a previously identified Pacific EC systems building block framework. Findings: Politics profoundly influenced pandemic response effectiveness, even at the clinical coalface. Experienced clinicians spoke authoritatively to decision-makers; focusing on safety, quality and service duty. Rapid adaptability, past surge event experience, team-focus and systems-thinking enabled EC leadership. Transparent communication, collaboration, mutual respect and trust created unity between frontline clinicians and 'top-level' administrators. Pacific cultural assets of relationship-building and community cohesion strengthened responses. Interpretation: Effective governance occurs when political, administrative and clinical actors work collaboratively in relationships characterised by trust, transparency, altruism and evidence. Trained, supported EC leadership will enhance frontline service provision, health security preparedness and future Universal Health Coverage goals. Funding: Epidemic Ethics/World Health Organization (WHO), Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office/Wellcome Grant 214711/Z/18/Z. Co-funding: Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation, International Development Fund Grant.

3.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; : 100517, 2022 Jul 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914790

ABSTRACT

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) across the Pacific region have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and emergency care (EC) clinicians have been on the frontline of response efforts. Their responsibilities have extended from triage and clinical management of patients with COVID-19 to health system leadership and coordination. This has exposed EC clinicians to a range of ethical and operational challenges.This paper describes the context and methodology of a rapid, collaborative, qualitative research project that explored the experiences of EC clinicians in Pacific LMICs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was conducted in three phases, with data obtained from online regional EC support forums, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. A phenomenological approach was adopted, incorporating a hybrid inductive and deductive thematic analysis. Research findings, reported in other manuscripts in this collection, will inform multi-sectoral efforts to improve health system preparedness for future public health emergencies. Funding: Epidemic Ethics/World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, supported by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office/Wellcome Grant 214711/Z/18/Z (Phases 1 and 2A) and an Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation International Development Fund Grant.

4.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; : 100516, 2022 Jul 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914789

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted challenges for all health systems worldwide. This research aimed to explore the impact of COVID-19 across the Pacific especially with regards to emergency care (EC) and clinicians' preparations and responses. Methods: A collaboration of Australia and Pacific researchers conducted prospective qualitative research over 18 months of the pandemic. In this three phase study data were gathered from Emergency Clinicians and stakeholders through online support forums, in-depth interviews and focus groups. A phenomenological methodological approach was employed to explore the lived experience of participants. This paper discusses the findings of the study regarding the EC building block of 'Infrastructure and Equipment.' Findings: Pre-existing infrastructure and equipment were not sufficient to help control the pandemic. Adequate space and correct equipment were essential needs for Pacific Island emergency clinicians, with donations, procurement and local ingenuity required for suitable, sustainable supplies and facilities. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) conferred a sense of security and increased Health Care Workers willingness to attend to patients. Interpretation: Investing in adequate infrastructure and appropriate equipment is crucial for an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sustainability of such investments in the Pacific context is paramount for ongoing EC and preparation for future surge responses and disasters. Funding: Phases 1 and 2A of this study were part of an Epidemic Ethics/World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, supported by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office/Wellcome Grant 214711/Z/18/Z. Co-funding for this research was received from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation via an International Development Fund Grant.

5.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; : 100515, 2022 Jul 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914788

ABSTRACT

Background: Emergency care (EC) addresses the needs of patients with acute illness and injury, and has fulfilled a critical function during the COVID-19 pandemic. 'Processes' (e.g. triage) and 'data' (e.g. surveillance) have been nominated as essential building blocks for EC systems. This qualitative research sought to explore the impact of the pandemic on EC clinicians across the Pacific region, including the contribution of EC building blocks to effective responses. Methods: The study was conducted in three phases, with data obtained from online support forums, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. There were 116 participants from more than 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories. A phenomenological approach was adopted, incorporating inductive and deductive methods. The deductive thematic analysis utilised previously identified building blocks for Pacific EC. This paper summarises findings for the building blocks of 'processes' and 'data'. Findings: Establishing triage and screening capacity, aimed at assessing urgency and transmission risk respectively, were priorities for EC clinicians. Enablers included support from senior hospital leaders, previous disaster experience and consistent guidelines. The introduction of efficient patient flow processes, such as streaming, proved valuable to emergency departments, and checklists and simulation were useful implementation strategies. Some response measures impacted negatively on non-COVID patients, and proactive approaches were required to maintain 'business as usual'. The pandemic also highlighted the value of surveillance and performance data. Interpretation: Developing effective processes for triage, screening and streaming, among other areas, was critical to an effective EC response. Beyond the pandemic, strengthening processes and data management capacity will build resilience in EC systems. Funding: Phases 1 and 2A of this study were part of an Epidemic Ethics/World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, supported by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office/Wellcome Grant 214711/Z/18/Z. Co-funding for this research was received from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation via an International Development Fund Grant.

6.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; : 100514, 2022 Jul 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914787

ABSTRACT

Background: This study explores emergency care (EC) and other frontline healthcare worker (HCW) experiences responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Pacific region. The crisis has reinforced the crucial role well-trained, resourced, and supported EC providers play in supporting vital health systems and services in all global regions not only during 'business as usual' periods, but in times of tremendous stress and surge. Methods: Qualitative data were collected from EC providers and relevant stakeholders in three research phases in 2020 and 2021. Data on the World Health Organization's (WHO) Human Resources Building Block, adapted for the Pacific EC context, was thematically analysed. Key findings were further analysed to identify enablers and barriers to effective EC pandemic management. Findings: 116 participants from across the Pacific region participated in this study. Five themes emerged: (1) EC providers performed multiple pandemic roles; (2) Importance of authorities' valuing frontline HCWs; (3) HCW mental health and exhaustion; (4) HCW tension managing stigma, personal/professional expectations, and chronic health needs; and (5) Building health and human resource capacity. Interpretation: This study significantly contributes to the limited scientific literature on HCW experiences responding to COVID-19 across the Pacific. Recommendations arising out of this research align with consensus priorities and standards that were identified pre-pandemic by health stakeholders across the Pacific for enhancing EC system development. With limited HCWs available for many Pacific nations, it is imperative the dignity and welfare of local HCWs is genuinely prioritised. Funding: Epidemic Ethics/WHO, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office/Wellcome Grant 214711/Z/18/Z. Co-funding: Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation, International Development Fund Grant.

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