Researchers begin study on effects of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers

A team of researchers has begun studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers to develop policies that will aid in future emergency preparedness and response.

To be conducted in Mombasa and Kilifi County, the study is aimed at knowing the difference in how male and female healthcare workers suffered the COVID-19 impacts and the mitigation measures.

The gender-based study targeting non-paid and paid health workers will be conducted under a project dubbed WHEELER (Women in Health and their Economic, Equity and Livelihood Statuses during Emergency Preparedness and Response).

Speaking during the issuance of research and training equipment worth KES 600,000 to Mombasa County’s health department, the County’s Executive Committee Member Dr. Sabah Ahmed said that the research will help prepare the hospital providers to be prepared should any pandemic occur.

“From the COVID-19 lesson, we are looking at how going forward we will be able to build resilient systems to overcome these disparities within different counties,” Sabah said.

Sabah commended the equipment donations saying that it will help in communicating data collected from the community levels to the analysis centres in order to inform decisions.

Dr. Sabah suggested that research stakeholders should incorporate all levels of health workers including community health volunteers so as to enhance the needed research.

Marleen Temmerman from the Aga Khan University explained that the research will reveal how the mental health and socio-economic issues affected health workers to be in a better position to cope with a probable future re-occurrence.

She said that as much as it is assumed that female health workers suffer the pandemic’s impacts more than males, the research will determine the truth through an evidence-based approach.

“This program looks at, is there a difference between male and female workers in relation to their economic livelihood and career. It will look at how the two genders suffered differently during the COVID-19 pandemic and the mitigation measures”, Temmerman said.

“We want to collect this data, not because we want another pandemic to occur but to ensure that the healthcare sector is better prepared to take actions in relation to health status for the next pandemic”, She clarified.

The WHEELER project is funded by the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC) in collaboration with Aga Khan University’s Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health East Africa, the University of Manitoba, and the counties of Kilifi and Mombasa.

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