Healthcare Workers Preparedness for COVID-19 Pandemic in The Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Cross-Sectional Survey
Alser O., Alghoul H., Alkhateeb Z., Hamdan A., Albarqouni L., Saini K.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p><jats:bold><jats:italic>Background:</jats:italic></jats:bold><jats:italic> </jats:italic>The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic threatens to overwhelm the capacity of a vulnerable healthcare system in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Sufficient training of healthcare workers (HCWs) in managing COVID-19 and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential in allowing oPt to mount a credible response to the crisis.<jats:bold><jats:italic>Methods:</jats:italic></jats:bold> A cross-sectional study was conducted using a validated online questionnaire between March 30, 2020 and April 12, 2020. Primary outcomes were availability of PPE and HCWs preparedness in oPt for COVID-19 pandemic. Secondary outcome was regional and hospital differences in oPt in terms of availability of PPE and HCWs preparedness.<jats:bold><jats:italic>Results:</jats:italic></jats:bold><jats:italic> </jats:italic>Of 138 respondents, only 38 HCWs (27.5%) always had access to facemasks and 15 (10.9%) for isolation gowns. Most HCWs did not find eye protection (n=128, 92.8%), N95 respirators (n=132, 95.7%), and face shields (n=127, 92%) always available. Compared to HCWs in West Bank, those in the Gaza Strip were significantly less likely to have access to alcohol sanitizers (p=0.03) and gloves (p <0.001). On average, governmental hospitals were significantly less likely to have all appropriate PPE than non-governmental institutions (p = 0.001). Only 16 (11.6%) surveyed felt confident in dealing with a potential COVID-19 case, 57 (41.3%) having received any COVID-19-related training, and 57 (41.3%) not having a local hospital protocol.<jats:bold><jats:italic>Conclusion:</jats:italic></jats:bold><jats:italic> </jats:italic>HCWs in oPt are underprepared and severely lacking adequate PPE provision. The lack of PPE provision will exacerbate spread of COVID-19 and deepen the crisis, whilst putting HCWs at risk.</jats:p>