Health workers take on so much—they are tireless caregivers, advocates and confidants, often undertaking a considerable amount of emotional pressure in their jobs. This couldn’t be truer during the pandemic, and health workers around the world are feeling the strain. A recent study shows that more than 33% of nurses stated their mental health as bad or very bad, underscoring the concern that the current pandemic will lead to an increase of stress and job burnout among health care workers.
As COVID-19 spread across the globe, we at the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation began strategizing how to support frontline health workers in low- and mid-income settings. One early result was the formation of a new collective partnership with funding from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation among three of our partners, The World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA), The Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery East Africa (AKU) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Together, we set out to design a mechanism to deliver vital training and education opportunities to frontline health workers managing dual imperatives: to prevent and treat COVID-19 while also providing primary health care amidst a potentially devastating interruption of health services, particularly in already fragile health systems.