The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health systems worldwide. It has also taken a heavy toll on the health and wellbeing of maternity health professionals around the world.

In a global survey of 1120 neonatal healthcare providers, more than 85% of health personnel feared for their own health and 89% had increased stress from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Global Health.

The study:

Rao S.P.N. et al. (March 2021) collected data from 1120 neonatal healthcare providers from 62 countries (mainly low and middle-income countries)

The responses included information on COVID-19 preparedness, effects on health personnel and on newborn care services including kangaroo mother care (KMC).

The results:

In terms of the impacy of COVID-!9 on health personnel:

  • Preparedness for COVID-19 was suboptimal in terms of guidelines and availability of personal protective equipment.
  • Around 1/3 reported routine testing of all pregnant women
  • 13% had no testing capacity at all
  • More than 85% of health personnel feared for their own health
  • 89% had increased stress.

In terms of the care of infants:

  • More than half reported that evidence-based interventions such as KMC were discontinued or discouraged.
  • Separation of the mother-baby dyad was reported for both COVID-positive mothers (50%) and those with unknown status (16%).
  • Follow-up care was disrupted primarily due to families' fear of visiting hospitals (~73%).

Conclusions:

To quote from the paper: "Newborn care providers are stressed and there is lack clarity and guidelines regarding care of small newborns during the pandemic. There is an urgent need to protect life-saving interventions, such as KMC, threatened by the pandemic, and to be ready to recover and build back better. "

If you are a neonatal healthcare provider, is this your experience too?

Did you feel more stressed? Or did you fear for your own health due to COVID-19?

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Articles and research links:

Rao SPN, Minckas N, Medvedev MM, Gathara D, Y N P, Seifu Estifanos A, Silitonga AC, Jadaun AS, Adejuyigbe EA, Brotherton H, Arya S, Gera R, Ezeaka CV, Gai A, Gobezayehu AG, Dube Q, Kumar A, Naburi H, Chiume M, Tumukunde V, Medhanyie AA, Plange-Rhule G, Shabini J, Ohuma EO, Tadele H, W/Gebriel F, Hadgu A, Alamineh L, Mehta R, Molyneux E, Lawn JE; COVID-19 Small and Sick Newborn Care Collaborative Group. Small and sick newborn care during the COVID-19 pandemic: global survey and thematic analysis of healthcare providers' voices and experiences. BMJ Glob Health. 2021 Mar;6(3):e004347. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004347. PMID: 33716220.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33716220/

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