More than half of health workers attending to Covid 19 patients in three major Kenya hospitals have reported mental disorders.
Most affected are workers in public hospitals compared to the private sector mainly due to poor work conditions, lack of protective gear and inadequate training.
This is reported in a new study conducted at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, a public institution in Mombasa, and Aga Khan University Hospital and Avenue Hospital both private facilities in Nairobi.
“Health workers directly involved with patients with Covid-19 reported higher rates of mental health symptoms compare to workers attending to other conditions.” says the study published on Wednesday (9th June 2021) in the journal BMJ Open.
A team of nine doctors from the three hospitals and the University of Washington and California University both of US had engaged 433 health workers from the local institutions.
“Depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress, and burnout were reported in 53.6 per cent, 44.3 per cent, 41.1 per cent, 31.0 per cent and 45.8 per cent of all participants, respectively.”
Being a doctor and being female, the report says were associated with severe symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, healthcare workers in the government institution experienced higher rates of mental health symptoms than their counterparts in private institutions.
Nearly half of participants reported inadequate resources or training to care for patients with Covid-19, and those in the government hospital were more likely to report mental health symptoms.
“Overall, we found that half of the respondents felt inadequately trained and reported lack of enough resources and PPE to safely care for patients with Ccovid-19,” says the study.
Health care workers in the government institution, the report says also showed significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress than those in the private hospitals.
The authors are calling for urgent cost-effective mitigating strategies to help curb the burden of mental health disorders associated with caring for patients with Covid-19 in Kenya.
Last month a Wellcome Trust Research Programme – Kenya study suggested Kenya could lose more than 400 health care workers in the coming months if urgent efforts are not made to acquire adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
The study also involving Johns Hopkins University and the World Bank, Nairobi said the country is currently facing serious PPE shortages that could adversely affect healthcare workers.
Kenya, the study said needs to spend Sh 337 million ($13.2 million) on PPEs to avert a possible 416 deaths of health workers.
“This investment would avert 416 and 30,041 healthcare worker deaths and COVID-19 cases respectively,” said the preprint posted on Research Square
By Gatonye Gathura