Search Dental Tribune

New report reveals impact of COVID-19 on healthcare professionals

Fear of infection, lack of governmental support and psychological distress—these are some of the themes that emerged in a recent report on healthcare workers. (Image: BalanceFormCreative/Shutterstock)

GENEVA, Switzerland: The COVID-19 pandemic caused fatigue, frustration and emotional exhaustion among healthcare workers. This is evident in a new report issued by the World Health Organization and the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA). The report measured the impact of COVID-19 on factors such as health, well-being, availability and the working conditions of dental professionals. The findings will help improve the anticipation of and response to future healthcare crises, thus benefiting both patients and healthcare systems.

The report used information gathered by national professional associations of WHPA organisations and was conducted from 2020 to 2021. It compared the experiences of dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physicians and physiotherapists and identified five main themes. These themes related to occupational and psychosocial factors, temporary or permanent departures from service, and access to and uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations.

For example, it was reported that healthcare professionals felt great fear throughout the pandemic as a result of a lack of personal protective equipment, and this fuelled their fear of infection. It was also found that healthcare professionals felt deeply undervalued. This undervaluation was manifested in the absence of systematic support throughout the pandemic.

Another important topic was vaccination, and it was reported that training and information pertaining to vaccination needed to be revised in order to address vaccination hesitancy and rejection among healthcare workers. Additionally, the report drew attention to a lack of support for mental health and psychosocial well-being and outlined that healthcare professionals had experienced an enormous disruption to learning during the pandemic since many educational institutions were closed and clinical placements were either postponed or cancelled altogether.

Howard Catton, CEO of the International Council of Nurses and a co-author of the report, said that governments should use the report to support planning for the next global health emergency and to relieve the burden that healthcare staff would have to carry in future crises.

“Around the world, prior underinvestment in health systems meant that they failed the health professionals and multidisciplinary teams that are the lifeblood, the very essence of our healthcare services,” Catton said in a press release.

He continued: “We know what needs to be done: the challenge is making it happen. A vital first step would be to have more health professionals in the most senior leadership positions to counter the current disconnect between decision makers and healthcare professionals on the front line.”

“We need governments to honour the contribution of nurses and others during the pandemic, elevate them to positions where they can more directly influence healthcare policies, and make sure that they never again have to face a deadly pandemic without the care, support and protection that they deserve,” he concluded.

To post a reply please login or register