“There was little information in the first moments we faced COVID-19, especially in early March. Everywhere, in the workplaces, in family and social premises, we were asked to provide information about this new disease” – says Dr. Artenca, family physician in Tirana. Several other primary care professionals felt the same as Dr. Artenca, and began searching for updated information on COVID-19 infection on the official health, national and international institutions websites. The first challenges were of two categories: first, the materials focused mainly on first-line professionals dealing with the identification and treatment of suspected/confirmed individuals with COVID-19 infection (epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, pneumologists, etc.) and second, the part most of the materials were mostly in English which made it difficult to distribute them to others.
Aware of this need for information, the Health for All Project immediately began preparing information-educational materials for COVID-19 infection, for primary health care professionals as well as for the general public, based mainly on data from the World Health Organization, US and Europe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We found answers on the HAP website to many questions we received from patients about self-isolation and self-quarantine, advices to pregnant women and new mothers, and materials that can be easily read and understood by the general public,” says Dr. Xhovana, family physician at Kuman HC.
Sokol, a nurse at Zerqan HC (Bulqiza Municipality) and his colleagues have taken care of a case infected with COVID-19 infection and shows how special topics have assisted him: “As expected, the patient himself and his family and his contacts panicked, so the materials related to stress management during COVID-19 helped us a lot in providing the necessary advices.”
The need for trainings…
HAP training materials, as a good basis for online training, were shared within the centers’ teams, who discussed them with each other in their workplaces and remotely via telephone and social networks. Now, in terms when the measures are being mitigated and training activities are allowed, starting on May 29, some of them have planned a series of meetings of their Peer Groups accredited by the NCCE, based on the set of training materials of 10 topics developed by HAP.
After the first encounter with COVID-19, primary care health professionals will need to learn to ‘coexist’ with the risk of the new disease. In these conditions, they highlight the need for a tool to improve the quality of remote consultation as well as communication and information platforms with patients, for COVID-19 and not only. In this context, HAP is working on developing clinical guidelines for remote consultation on chronic diseases and it is planning to set up an electronic system for planning visits to the Health Center. HAP is also working with Swiss partners to develop a platform for self-control of COVID-19 symptoms.