Study finds anxiety and depression are prevalent among Somali health workers

Healthcare workers in Somalia suffer from high rates of anxiety, depression and stress due to their work with COVID-19 cases, according to a new study.

The study was presented at a health research conference in the Somali town of Garowe last week. Early results recorded a high prevalence of anxiety in the working population at 69.3%, 46.5% for depression and 15.2% for stress.

The study used the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS), widely used in scientific circles to measure the three emotional states. Researchers interviewed 186 healthcare workers at three hospitals in Mogadishu between May and August 2021.

Dr. Abdirazak Yusuf Ahmed, lead author of the study and director of De Martino Hospital, the leading COVID-19 medical facility in Mogadishu, said several factors played a role in the prevalence of such traumatic experiences among hospital staff. health.

“The first is that this disease is associated with deaths,” Ahmed said. “They (the workers) were afraid that they could take the virus home and pass it on to their loved ones.”

He also mentioned the low motivation of COVID-19 workers.

Doctors working in Somalia are not surprised that the multiplier effects of COVID-19 have contributed to poor worker health.

Since March 16, 2020, when the first case was detected, Somalia has recorded 1,340 COVID-19 deaths and 26,203 positive cases, representing a case fatality rate of 5.1%. But independent studies and news reports have argued that deaths from COVID-19 in Somalia have been grossly underreported. To date, Somalia has administered over 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with only 5.6% of the population fully vaccinated.

The discovery of personal health problems among frontline workers comes at a time when the country lacks health personnel to provide services.

Last week’s conference, which was attended by federal and regional health officials, local doctors and international health workers, including representatives of the World Health Organization, recognized the seriousness of the lack of health workers.

A statement released at the end of the conference said the country’s low workforce density stands at 5.4 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people. The WHO recommends a ratio of 44.5 per 10,000.

The statement further said that according to the WHO health workforce guidelines, there is a shortage of 55,000 qualified health professionals in the country.

He said the gap affects all components of the health system, ranging from service delivery, health workforce, health information systems, access to essential medicines, financing and leadership, policies and governance.

This shortage is attributed to the migration of health workers from Somalia due to war and crisis, according to Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia.

“This shortage means that the country does not have adequate health workers who are needed to operate and manage primary health centers or hospitals,” he said. “Thus, the services are suboptimal or of poor quality because the services are provided by unprofessional health workers.”

Good news for infant mortality

The conference predicted progress in reducing child mortality and maternal mortality in Somalia in the years to come.

With the investment and implementation of basic health services, the maternal mortality rate is expected to decline to 332 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030, a 50% reduction from the current level, according to the communicated.

Similarly, neonatal, infant and under-5 child mortality rates are projected to decline from 122, 77 and 38 per 1,000 live births in 2020 to 63, 42 and 20 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively, by 2030.

Child mortality in Somalia is said to be the highest in the world, according to a report published by Amnesty International in August 2021, with around 15% of people having access to medical care in rural areas.

This report comes from the “Dossier d’Enquête” program of the Somali service of VOA.

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