Black women are the main work front in caring for patients with Covid-19 and, therefore, constitute the most vulnerable group of health professionals in Brazil. The warning is in the work “The health of health professionals in facing the Covid-19 pandemic”, carried out by researchers at Rede CoVida based on the review of 57 articles published in other countries. The results were presented in the launch webinar for the CoVida # 5 Bulletin, this Monday, 18. Watch in full:

The Bulletin points out that more than 50% of doctors are men and 77.7% are white. Among nursing professionals, 85.1% are women and 53% are black. And it is these professionals, according to the CoVida Bulletin, who are most exposed to the risks of contamination. This is a reality in the world, because among all professionals who deal with patients, nurses are the most vulnerable to contamination due to having direct contact with patients in most of the work.

According to the American Nurses Association, more than 20 million nurses worldwide are involved in coping with the pandemic. At Tongji Hospital in China, 72.2% of the professionals positive for Covid-19 worked in wards, 18.5% in the medical technology area and only 3.7% were in the emergency room. For this reason, researchers highlight the importance of establishing hospital protocols for these professionals to reduce the risk of infection by the virus.

The articles highlight the importance of using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the best way to protect this group against the new coronavirus. However, the use of this equipment can lead to skin irritation, wounds, secondary infections and other skin diseases are very common problems among health professionals who treat Covid-19 patients, due to the use of the mask and frequent hand hygiene. About 97% of them have lesions that affect the “bridge” of the nose, hands, cheek and forehead. To avoid these effects, experts recommend the use of PPE, precisely obeying the usage standards, in addition to the sterilization and cleaning specifications.

Although it is evident that the risk of contamination is the biggest problem faced by health professionals in the pandemic, the severity among the youngest has caught the attention of researchers. In a study conducted in China, professionals with a severe case of the disease were on average 38 years old, against 47 in the group of milder cases. Among 54 health professionals who were infected in the evaluated hospital, 40 developed the most severe form of the infection.

Mental health

In addition to these questions about the use of PPE, the Bulletin points out the importance of caring for the mental health of these workers. Increased anxiety, depression, insomnia, greater use of drugs and fear of becoming infected or transmitting the infection to family members are common reports among health professionals who provide direct care to patients. In addition, the intense workload and the feeling of helplessness generate chronic stress, exhaustion and exhaustion. Stress factors also included the care of co-workers who may become seriously ill or die from Covid-19, the shortage of PPE, which intensifies the fear of exposure to the virus at work, taking on new or unknown clinical roles because of demand and limited access to mental health services.

The tendency is that these conditions worsen even more in a context of labor shortages, since many professionals have been dismissed for contracting Covid-19 and the number of patients has been increasing. The work also shows that women, nurses and professionals involved in the diagnosis, treatment or provision of nursing care to patients with the new coronavirus are among the most affected groups.

The CoVida Bulletin offers proposals to managers on how to act and the measures that reference countries have taken to care for the population.