As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads across Africa, little is known about the impact of the pandemic on health-care workers (HCWs) in the region. We designed an anonymous survey distributed via e-mail and phone messaging to 13 countries through the African Hepatitis B Network. We obtained 489 analyzable responses. We used risk ratio analysis to quantify the relationship between binary variables and χ2 testing to quantify the statistical significance of these relationships. Median age of respondents was 30 years (interquartile range, 26-36 years) and 63% were physicians. The top three sources of information used by HCWs for COVID-19 management included the Ministry of Health of each country, the WHO, and social media. Forty-nine percent reported a decrease in income since the start of the pandemic, with the majority experiencing between a 1% and a 25% salary reduction. Sixty-six percent reported some access to personal protective equipment; only 14% reported appropriate access. Moreover, one third of respondents reported no availability of ventilators at their facility. Strikingly, the percentage of HCWs reporting never feeling depressed changed from 61% before the pandemic to 31% during the pandemic, with a corresponding increase in daily depressive symptoms from 2% to 20%. Most respondents (> 97%) correctly answered survey questions about COVID-19 symptoms, virus transmission, and prevention. Our survey revealed African HCWs face a variety of personal and professional context-dependent challenges. Ongoing support of HCWs through and after the COVID-19 pandemic is essential.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support: This study was supported by the University of Minnesota Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, by University of Minnesota COVID-19 Rapid-Response Grants, and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Jose D. Debes.
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