The COVID-19 pandemic has affected health workers in many aspects as they work. This study was carried out to explore effects of COVID – 19 on health workforce at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), one of the four tertiary hospitals in Malawi.
The objectives of the study were to assess changes in workloads and working hours of health workforce due to COVID-19; to understand effects of COVID-19 on mental health of health workforce at KCH (regardless of COVID 19 test result); to examine effects of COVID-19 on allocation of financial resources in protection of health workers. Realism research philosophy was used. This research philosophy is dependent on the notion of independence of reality from the human mind. Purposeful random sampling method was employed. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 73 health workers.
The study showed that 63% of health workers were allocated to COVID – 19 unit and 79 % of respondents experienced increased workload during all the three phases of COVID – 19. Health workers were also asked about effects of COVID – 19 on their physical; 68% mentioned exhaustion, social well-being; 58% stigma, discrimination, and psychological well-being; 34% had stress and inability to interact with family and friends. The government allocated MK414, 656,603 to the hospital to support the fight of COVID – 19 in all three waves. Out of the total, 53% was for risk allowances for health workers and 16% on PPE. A provisional service delivery hospital was instituted - Bingu Field Hospital (BFH) in second wave and operated for a period of 4 months, but it used up MK104,000,000.00 (24%) of the total allocation and this was 51% of the second wave budget.
Recommendations and Conclusions
The Ministry of Health should train additional health workforce and keep a master list to effectively respond to crises such as COVID – 19; there should be good representation in planning meetings for management of crises for comprehensive planning to ensure efficiency and effectiveness; and the ministry should have vibrant systems and feedback mechanisms in place in response to crises and they should ensure equity in allocation of COVID – 19 allowances in crises.