COVID-19 in Africa: Survey Analysis of Impact on Health-Care Workers

View More View Less
  • 1 University of Minnesota, Department of Medicine and School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • 2 Addis Ababa University, Department of Gastroenterology, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
  • 3 University of Gezira, School of Pharmacy, Gezira, Sudan;
  • 4 Aswan University Hospital, Department of Gastroenterology, Aswan, Egypt;
  • 5 Al-Rajhi University Liver Hospital–Assiut University, Department of Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology, Assiut, Egypt;
  • 6 Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre, Department of Medicine, Arusha, Tanzania;
  • 7 Makerere University, Department of Medicine, Kampala, Uganda;
  • 8 Institute for Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya;
  • 9 University of Nigeria, Department of Virology, Nsukka, Nigeria;
  • 10 Hennepin Healthcare, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Jose D. Debes, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, 420 SE Delaware St., MMC 810, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: debes003@umn.edu

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.

Authors’ addresses: Nasreen S. Quadri, Sophia Ibrahim Ali, Allison Benjamin, and Mark Jacobson, University of Minnesota, Department of Medicine and School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN, E-mails: quadr015@umn.edu, ali00178@umn.edu, allisonbenjamin7@gmail.com, and mjacobsontz@gmail.com. Amir Sultan, Addis Ababa University, Department of Gastroenterology, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, E-mail: amirs08444@gmail.com. Mirghani Yousif, University of Gezira, School of Pharmacy, Gezira, Sudan, E-mail: mirghani53@yahoo.com. Abdelmajeed Moussa, Aswan University, Department of Gastroenterology, Aswan, Egypt, E-mail: dr.abdomm@gmail.com. Ehab Fawzy Abdo and Sahar Hassany, Al-Rajhi University Liver Hospital–Assiut University Hospitals, Department of Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology, Assiut, Egypt, E-mails: ehab_mostafa99@yahoo.com and saharhassany@yahoo.com. Johnstone Kayandabila, Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre, Department of Medicine, Arusha, Tanzania, E-mail: johnskay3@hotmail.com. Kenneth Ssebambulidde, Makerere University, Department of Medicine, Kampala, Uganda, E-mail: kssebambulidde@gmail.com. Lucy Ochola, Institute for Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mail: laochola@gmail.com. Ifeorah Ijeoma, University of Nigeria, Department of Virology, Nsukka, Nigeria, E-mail: ijeoma.ifeorah@unn.edu.ng. Jose D. Debes, University of Minnesota, Department of Medicine and School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN, and Hennepin Healthcare, Minneapolis, MN, E-mail: debes003@umn.edu.

Save