COVID-19 Takes Toll On Mental Health Of Europe’s Medics

This handout picture made available by Madrid´s regional government, Comunidad de Madrid, shows patients arriving at the temporary hospital set up for coronavirus patients at a pavilion in Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid, on March 21, 2020. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP
This handout picture made available by Madrid´s regional government, Comunidad de Madrid, shows patients arriving at the temporary hospital set up for coronavirus patients at a pavilion in Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid, on March 21, 2020. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP


Steve, a paramedic in northeast England, contracted the coronavirus two months ago. Then his wife fell ill. Both recovered but throughout they were concerned about passing it on to their two young sons.

“On my return to work, I couldn’t sleep properly, as I was worried that I could still bring the virus home and that I could still get it again,” the 46-year-old told AFP.

“I never thought I would ever have to work on the front line in a pandemic. I do wish it was just a dream and when I wake up the world will be back to how it was.”

Doctors, nurses and paramedics in full protective clothing have become an enduring image of the pandemic.

But stress and anxiety brought on by dealing with the high levels of serious illness and death have become commonplace on the medical frontline.

Now, professional bodies and experts in Europe’s worst-hit countries want more support to tackle the psychological impact on staff — particularly if a second wave strikes.

READ ALSO: EU Agency To Set Up ‘Independent’ Research On COVID-19 Vaccine

“We’ve got all the ingredients for a major risk of post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Belgian mental health expert Xavier Noel.

Noel, a clinical psychologist in Brussels, singled out nurses as of most concern, given their proximity to seriously ill patients and the dying.

“They’ve faced a totally unusual death rate and way of dying, in a more dehumanised context, without the presence of families to support them,” he said.

– Depression and suicide risk –

Europe has officially seen nearly 175,000 deaths from more than two million cases, and across the continent the battle to save lives has taken a punishing toll.

In Belgium, studies indicated that more than twice as many healthcare workers than usual had thought about quitting the profession, and levels of unhappiness were four times higher.

Another found alcohol consumption highest among healthcare professionals.

In France, one healthcare workers’ support association said it was receiving more than 70 calls a day from medics about the crisis.

Some seven in 10 were from women and a handful of calls were even deemed to indicate “an imminent risk of suicide”.

In Spain, more than 50,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 — 22 percent of the total cases in the country, according to the health ministry.

Anxiety is rife, a study by Complutense University of Madrid found, adding that just over half of the 1,200 medics it questioned had “depressive symptoms”.

A similar number (53 percent) showed signs “compatible with post-traumatic stress”, the study said.

“We believe an urgent psychological intervention is necessary for this group if the much-feared second wave materialises,” said the report’s authors, Lourdes Luceno Moreno and Jesus Martin Garcia.

“We are going to see professionals emotionally damaged and a health system without the capacity to respond.”

The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan similarly found seven in 10 healthcare professionals in the worst-hit regions of Italy were exhausted.

Nine in 10 had suffered psychological stress. Many reported increased irritability, trouble sleeping and night terrors, as well as emotional breakdowns.

Researcher Serena Barello said the normal stresses of the job had been exacerbated by the increased workload, difficult working conditions and the raft of unknowns about the virus.

That had put their health “seriously at risk, not just physically but also emotionally and psychologically”, she added.

– ‘Hero’ label adds pressure –

In the UK — whose death toll is second only to that of the United States — the country’s only charity offering mental health support for first responders is also warning of a looming crisis.

The Laura Hyde Foundation, set up in memory of a nurse who took her own life in 2016, said it had been inundated with calls from nurses, doctors and paramedics.

Last week, it launched a “No Mask for Mental Health” campaign to raise awareness of the psychological impact of the outbreak and provide support.

“Healthcare staff everywhere have been really touched by all the love they’ve been getting from the public,” said Jennifer Hawkins, clinical lead at the foundation.

“But the label ‘hero’ can, at times, put them under even greater pressure.

“The harsh reality of their work is having a significant impact on mental health — and we must make it OK for medical professionals not to suffer in silence; to prescribe for themselves what they would prescribe for others and ask for help,” Hawkins said.


Almost 1,000 Nurses, Midwives Exposed To Coronavirus – Union

A health worker helps his colleague with his PPE during a community testing as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV



The leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has decried the rising cases of health workers testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

The President of the association, Mr Abdurafiu Adeniji, stated this at a press conference on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

According to him, data from the NANNM COVID-19 Situation Report Room reveals that hundreds of members of the union have been exposed to COVID-19.

Adeniji said, “Almost 1,000 nurses and midwives have been exposed to coronavirus, out of which about 250 are currently on isolation and about 85 out of about 600 have tested positive.

“Over 2,000 Nigerian healthcare professionals, especially nurses and doctors have tested positive to COVID-19 while about 15 healthcare professionals have lost their lives.”

He attributed the rising cases of coronavirus infection among nurses and midwives to the lack of adequate knowledge on how to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while attending to infected patients.

The NANNM president also lamented that the nation’s healthcare system has been overstretched and on the verge of being overwhelmed.

He stressed that the present situation should be seen as an unusual opportunity for the government to increase investment in the nursing and midwifery profession.

Adeniji also urged the members of the union, especially those on the frontline to ensure their personal safety while carrying out their duties.

He said, “The hazards being confronted by nurses and midwives are enormous and they are being unduly exposed to this virus.

“The WHO prescription is 40 nurses per 100,000 population, but Nigeria is operating five-six nurses to 100,000 population.”

“There are evidence of lack of adequate awareness and knowledge of the nature and transmission of COVID-19 disease, there is equally lack of adequate knowledge on the use of PPE and sometimes, infectious diseases principle and protocol are being violated by some health care frontline professionals,” he added.

The press briefing was organised in commemoration of the 2020 International Nurses Week entitled, ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead-Nursing the World to Health’.

Zimbabwe Doctors Join Nurses On Strike Over Lack Of Coronavirus Protection

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president Tawanda Zvakada (R) and association treasurer Tapiwa Mungofa (L) addressing the media during a press conference at the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare on March 26, 2020, where they vowed to boycott work unless the government provides protective gear to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP.


Doctors in Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have gone on strike over lack of protective gear against the novel coronavirus, joining thousands of nurses who walked out of the wards this week, their association said Thursday.

“We have made a call for safety, to say whilst we are sorting out some things, for now let’s… withdraw our services temporarily,” Tapiwa Mungofa, treasurer of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), told reporters in Harare.

He said most of the doctors across the country’s government hospitals were not at work.

Some 15,000 hospital nurses downed tools on Wednesday over a lack of protective gear and water shortages.

The health workers walkout, “locked up” Harare Central Hospital, one of the country’s main referral hospitals for the poor and the working class.

“The nurses decided to go and stay safe at home,” Mungofa said.

The southern African country’s public health system has been in a state of near-collapse for years, but the lack of drugs and equipment has pushed the system to the brink during the coronavirus spread.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Transmission During Pregnancy Rare But Possible, Study Reveals

The government-owned daily, The Herald, on Thursday reported Zimbabwe had taken delivery of its share of personal protective equipment donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.

Mungofa said doctors will resume duty “as soon as our safety as health care workers is guaranteed, we are ready to serve the Zimbabwean population, we are ready to fight this coronavirus”.

Zimbabwe has recorded three infections and one death, since reporting its first case last Friday.

A 30-year-old broadcaster died on Monday, less than two days after he tested positive for COVID-19.

His family said the isolation facility where he died had neither the drugs nor a ventilator needed to treat his condition.


Nurses Seek More Funding To Address Health Sector Challenges


Nurses and midwives at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in Benin City, the Edo State capital have called on the government at all levels to pay the necessary attention to the health sector needs in Nigeria.

The medical practitioners made the appeal on Tuesday when they commenced a three-day sensitisation walk to mark the beginning of the year 2020, which has been tagged as the Year Of The Nurse by the World Health Organisation.

According to the WHO, the year 2020 is significant in the context of nursing and midwifery strengthening, for universal health coverage.

The nurses also decried the increasing rate of migration of Nigerian medical personnel to other countries where, according to them, there are better opportunities for quality health care practice.

The head, nursing at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Mrs Doris Asama, joined her colleagues in the call for adequate funding of the health sector in the country in order to check the growing cases of medical brain drain from Nigeria to other developed countries.

“As I speak to you, many nurses are leaving Nigeria for greener pastures abroad. More than ever before, manpower is needed, funding and good working environment is required in order to attempt changing the status quo” she said.

Also speaking at the event, Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, UBTH chapter, Mr Augustine Osigbeme, expressed gratitude to the W.H.O for setting the whole of the year 2020 aside for the nurses.

He noted with optimism that the celebrations and actions that would take place during the year-long celebration will bring about the desired positive impact and attention to health care delivery in Nigeria.

“It’s indeed a welcome development for us nurses and midwives, as you know rightly, the country’s population is on the increase, hunger and poverty are also rife, therefore, more people are falling sick and in need of medical services…all these burdens are in the end placed on nurses,” Osigbeme said.

Nasarawa Govt. To Partner Nurses, Midwives On Service Delivery

Courtesy: www.nursingworldnigeria

The Nasarawa state Ministry of Health has taken steps to ensure standard practice in the nursing and midwifery profession.

Consequently, the management said it has concluded arrangement with the State chapter of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN), to organise a one week intensive mandatory continuing professional development program, workshop for practitioners.

A statement in Lafia signed by the Ministry’s Director of Nursing Services, Alabere Bawa, indicated that the week-long symposium would serve as an avenue for renewal of practicing licenses and is expected to update practitioners with current trends and ways to enhance service delivery.

The statement calls on all nurses and midwives in the state to converge on Monday April 3, for the commencement of the training program.

FG Deploys Midwives To Primary Healthcare Centres Nationwide

Health, midwives FG Deploys Midwives To Primary Healthcare Centres Nationwide The Federal Government is deploying skilled midwives to Primary Healthcare Centers across the country to strengthen service delivery.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (NPHDA), Dr Emmanuel Odu, revealed this at the opening of a Midwives Service Orientation Scheme in Abuja.

Dr Odu said that the scheme is a year-long mandatory service for all graduates of nursing, which is aimed at improving their skills on key aspects of primary health.

This comes after series of meetings held by key stakeholders across the nation to discuss ways by which health systems can be improved especially in a critical time when the current economic recession is being experienced in Nigeria.

At such a time, it has become increasingly difficult for the less privileged and vulnerable members of the society to assess Primary Health Care services.

The Nigerian Medical Association recently staged a walk, demanding the implementation of the National Health Act, enacted in 2014.

The association says the passage into law has been stalled as a result of the non-nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government.

In a message from the President of Nigerian Medical Association, Professor Mike Ogirima, the Federal Government was urged to immediately start the operation of the National Health Act without further delay in order to address the numerous challenges of healthcare delivery to Nigerians.

Members of the Nigerian Medical Association, Plateau State Chapter, and Abia state, joined their counterparts across the nation in a nationwide walk to call on the government at all levels to implement the provisions of the National Health Act, 2014.

UBTH Nurses Protest Against Kidnap Of Colleague In Edo

Nurses at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) have demanded the immediate release of their abducted colleague, Mrs Rita Aiwerela, who was kidnapped on Sunday in the state’s capital.

The Chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in UBTH, Osigbeme Augustine, decried the upsurge in the rate of kidnap across Nigeria.

The Secretary NANNM in UBTH, Austin Owenaze, also said the family of the victim told them that the abductors were demanding a ransom of 10 million Naira.

He wondered how the family would get such amount of money and called for Mrs Aiwerela’s unconditional release.

The nurses made the demand on Tuesday during a peaceful demonstration at the UBTH premises in Benin City, southern Nigeria.

They expressed worries about the worsening insecurity in Nigeria, especially in Edo State.

They have called on the Edo State government and the security agencies to ensure the release of their colleague.

Blood Bank Society Holds 3rd Anniversary Conference In Lagos

bbsnThe Blood Bank Society of Nigeria (BBSN), has held its 3rd annual conference in Lagos to enlighten Nigerians about the need for more participation in voluntary blood donation to save lives.

On Friday, medical experts at the event warned that the need for blood transfusions is increasing partly due to the rise in cases of communicable diseases and blood loss during and after pregnancy.

BBSN is a body that unites people who have interest in blood banking and transfusion service which include; Red Cross members, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, hospital administrators, technical staff in the blood banks, doctors and especially haematologists.

BBSN, with storage facilities through her member sites, works as storage facilities for easy accessibility of properly screened and government certified blood for transfusion in remote areas.

It was incorporated in Nigeria on December 4, 2008, as organized body for core professionals in blood banking to interact and improve on standard of practice in blood banking and transfusion service towards achieving the standard set by the National Blood Transfusion Service.

BBSN creates awareness to promote voluntary non-remunerated blood donation as the safest mode of blood donation.



LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Suspends Five Months Strike

LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Suspends Five Months StrikeThe Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, the capital Osun State, south-west Nigeria, has suspended its ongoing strike.

The suspension of the five months industrial action by the union of the government-owned hospital is coming after the payment ‎of the 2013 salary arrears owed.

The Chief Medical Director of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Professor Femi Fadiora, revealed that a total of 150 million naira outstanding salary of LAUTECH workers owed by the Oyo State government had been offset by the Osun State government, explaining that it was the remuneration that made all workforce resume their duties.

Professor Fadiora then urged the workers to perform their duties peacefully and submissively and also appealed to the public to bear with the hospital for the long period it was out of service.

However, the turnout was low at the Osun State secretariat as workers expressed confusion on the directive‎ of the labour leaders whether to resume or not, following the 50% payment remitted to the account of officers on Grade Level 8 and above.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership is yet to make a definite statement on the industrial action but the Chairman of Osun State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Comrade Olalere Olawuyi, had directed in a statement that teachers should stay at home till further notice.

Ebola: Health Workers Seek Better Welfare


Health workers in Nigeria are seeking protection and better incentives for their colleagues giving treatment for patients with Ebola Virus Disease.

According to the President of the Health Workers Union, Mr Ayuba Wabba, healthcare providers have been worse affected by the outbreak of the disease in West Africa.

The union called for the recruitment of more health workers and better legislature that would guarantee the welfare of the care givers in the front-line of fighting the Ebola scourge.

Mr Wabba was speaking at a forum organised by the National Union of Medical and Health Worker in Nigeria to provide training on how to manage Ebola cases without being infected with the virus.

Apart from the workshop, health workers also believe there is a need for insurance and better legislature.

The National Council on Health had, on Monday, passed a resolution to press for life insurance coverage for health workers handling Ebola cases across the country.

While all health workers are at the risk of contracting the virus, experts believe that those working in laboratories, nurses, laundry and clinical services are at greater risk.

The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives have also threatened industrial action because of discrimination and poor welfare.

Statistics reveals that since the recent outbreak, over 240 health workers have contracted the virus in West Africa. In Nigeria, out of the six deaths recorded, three were health care workers.