The Survey Analysis
COVID-19 is a novel disease and many countries and governments are still struggling with dealing with it including availability of healthcare equipment. Cameroon is one of those countries in Sub-Sahara Africa that are most hit. The Cameroon Diaspora COVID-19 Response an initiative led I Am Cameroon funded a donation of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to healthcare facilities in Cameroon and prepared a pre-impact survey to assess their availability and use, and knowledge about COVID-19 was administered to persons who benefited from the gift of Cameroon Diaspora COVID-19 Initiative working with I Am Cameroon.
This survey covered over 15 health institutions including hospitals, health centers and clinics from three regions of Cameroon – North West, South West, and Littoral so far. Although all layers of healthcare workers (HCW) befitted, 60% of those were nurses, perhaps accounting for the heavy demand of mask rather than other PPEs. Health institutions only systematically provided 18% of PPEs to its healthcare workers. These HCW only systematically use PPEs 39% of the time. This is an indication that hospitals are ill-equipped with PPEs and HCWs are largely needy as only 39% of them systematically use PPEs, especially facemasks. This may also account for why the most demanded PPEs are facemasks and gowns. The demographics of the survey show nurses are the highest respondents perhaps explaining why face shields and gown are not as urgent for them. Use of gloves was least in priority perhaps because most hospitals systematically before COVID-19 provide gloves.
The absence of PPEs was directly linked to a poor mental health of HCWs and this was largely attributed to the absence of PPEs. Many of the healthcare work indicated they lacked adequate knowledge about COVID-19 but were willing to learn more and share this knowledge with communities. They however indicated that the best way to engage the community were through community field interventions although other media such as the social media were also encouraged.
In all, the results of the survey indicate that there is a dire need for PPEs in Cameroonian healthcare institutions especially facial masks. There is also a need for training and sensitization of healthcare personnel and the community on COVID especially through community interventions.
Having crossed 10,000 cases with nearly 300 deaths as of June 20, 2020, and while the death rate is comparatively low, the rate of infection is alarming and seems to be trending steeply upward.
Knowing that 5-10% of these cases may be significantly affected, hospitalizations will trend higher and obviously, exposure of our target group for intervention will increase significantly. We must therefore not to relent in the efforts to protect healthcare workers.
by Lilian Lem Atanga
Supervisory Committee Member