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Prevalence of chronic conditions and multimorbidity among healthcare workers in Zimbabwe: Results from a screening intervention | PLOS Global Public Health

Prevalence of chronic conditions and multimorbidity among healthcare workers in Zimbabwe: Results from a screening intervention | PLOS Global Public Health

Prevalence of chronic conditions and multimorbidity among healthcare workers in Zimbabwe: Results from a screening intervention | PLOS Global Public Health

The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in southern Africa is expanding and is superimposed on high HIV prevalence. Healthcare workers are a scarce resource; yet are vital to health systems. There are very limited studies on the burden of chronic conditions among healthcare workers in Africa, and none exploring multimorbidity (≥2 chronic conditions). We describe the epidemiology of infectious (HIV) and non-communicable chronic conditions, and multimorbidity, among Zimbabwean healthcare workers. Healthcare workers (≥18 years) in eight Zimbabwean provinces were invited to a voluntary, cross-sectional health-check, including HIV, diabetes, hypertension and mental health screening. Statistical analyses described the prevalence and risk factors for multimorbidity (two or more of HIV, diabetes, hypertension or common mental disorder) and each condition. Missing data were handled using multiple imputation. Among 6598 healthcare workers (July 2020–July 2022) participating in the health-check, median age was 37 years (interquartile range 29–44), 79% were women and 10% knew they were living with HIV. Half had at least one chronic condition: 11% were living with HIV, 36% had elevated blood pressure, 12% had elevated HbA1c and 11% had symptoms of common mental disorder. The overall prevalence of multimorbidity was 15% (95% CI: 13–17%); 39% (95% CI: 36–43%) among people aged 50 and older. Whilst most HIV was diagnosed and treated, other chronic conditions were usually undiagnosed or uncontrolled. Limiting our definition of multimorbidity to two or more screened conditions sought to reduce bias due to access to diagnosis, however, may have led to a lower reported prevalence than that found using a wider definition. Half of healthcare workers screened were living with a chronic condition; one in seven had multimorbidity. Other than HIV, most conditions were undiagnosed or untreated. Multisectoral action to implement contextually relevant, chronic disease services in Africa is urgently needed. Specific attention on health workers is required to protect and retain this critical workforce.

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