Former director of the American Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), and current Chief Medical Officer of Project Hope, Dr. Tom Kenyon explained that healthcare workers around the world are struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression due to worsening treatment conditions amid the pandemic.
However, Project Hope launched Mental Health and Resilience Training for healthcare workers in Indonesia, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines last summer to help those on the forefront of the pandemic overcome the pressures that can lead to adverse mental health issues.
GLOBAL VACCINE DEFICIENCY MADE THE PROBLEM FURTHER
Kenyon said that as more and more people are vaccinated, the burden on doctors and other healthcare professionals in the United States is eased, while the lack of vaccines in developing countries is prolonging the pandemic and negatively impacting the mental health of healthcare professionals in those countries.
Kenyon said, “We don’t think the rest of the world will get vaccinated anytime soon. There are two kinds of worlds right now: a world that is preparing to open up and ‘normalize’, and another world that is formed in low-income countries, and nobody cares. By the end of the year, we’ll have 10 percent of the global population. We are lucky if we can vaccinate,” he said.
ENOUGH VACCINE DISTRIBUTED TO 12.5 PERCENT OF THE WORLD
On the other hand, enough vaccine doses have been distributed around the world so far for 12.5 percent of the global population. But according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracking index, the majority of them are in rich countries, where populations are vaccinated 30 times faster than in low-income countries. While more than 46 percent of the population in the United States was fully vaccinated, as of June 1, only 2.4 percent of the population in the Philippines was vaccinated.
Kenyon explained that vaccinating people will not only reduce health workers’ concerns about the risks posed to their own health and their families, but will also reduce their exposure to caseload and morbidity (the ratio of those infected in a given population to the population that remains healthy over a given time period).
Kenyon said, “What makes Covid-19 so different is that it affects your life at home as well as your life at work and outside the hospital. It is also a problem to take all this disease home and not be vaccinated. The countries we work in have not been vaccinated yet,” said Kenyon.
PARALLELS BETWEEN COVID-19 AND THE FIRST DAYS OF THE AIDS EPIDEMIC
On the other hand, Kenyon, who has worked for years in different countries as the global AIDS coordinator and chief medical officer for the “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)” in the US Department of State, is the health worker who is currently in the first phase of the AIDS epidemic. He said he saw parallels between the experiences of his employees.
Kenyon explained that with rising morbidity and death, healthcare professionals are less encouraged to continue working, especially in patients they cannot help.
Kenyon said, “The death rate was staggering. You go home after the seizure and you come back. Then you find that the five patients you care for have died. At that point, many healthcare professionals walked away. In the early 2000s, treatment was available and that suddenly changed. Treating HIV is suddenly very rewarding Therefore, I think that in addition to vaccines, better interventions, better therapies, mental trauma of healthcare workers will be very helpful in the corona virus pandemic,” he said.
“THEY ARE NOT SUPPORTED, THEY DON’T FEEL THAT NOBODY CARE ABOUT THEM”
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there may be a shortage of 18 million healthcare workers globally by 2030, mostly in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The epidemic has already forced health workers. Recent studies in the US show that between 20 percent and 30 percent of frontline healthcare professionals are considering leaving the profession, and a report by the British Medical Association revealed that thousands of doctors in the UK are planning to leave the profession.
“They work so hard and they are unsupported and they don’t feel like anyone cares about them. They just feel underestimated. “However, it’s frightening for healthcare professionals to consider leaving their profession in such a critical situation.”
WHEN WILL THE MASKS BE RELEASED?