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Harnessing Jordan’s Private Health Providers to Care for COVID-19 Patients

Early in the pandemic, Jordan’s Ministry of Health focused its limited resources on training public-sector health care providers to care for COVID-19 patients. But the ministry also recognized that to prepare for a potential surge in cases, there was a need to tap into Jordan’s large private sector health workforce for additional support.

In April 2020, the Abt Associates-led, USAID-funded Local Health System Sustainability Project (LHSS) collaborated with the ministry to design a COVID-19 training program targeting health professionals who work in private hospitals and clinics. Since their launch in July 2020, the trainings have reached more than 3,000 health care providers and medical and nursing students, unlocking their potential at a time when their country needs them most.

Among them is Maram Alshawayyat, a nurse working in Istiklal Hospital. “The topics are very important to my work,” said Ms. Alshawayyat. “I can log in and complete the sessions in my free time, which is very encouraging to me.”

The training offers health care professionals courses on mental health and coping during the pandemic, treating patients with disabilities, and providing home care for patients, among other topics. It also addresses some of the unique social and cultural challenges Jordan’s health care providers have encountered, including gender and equity concerns, since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The course on managing COVID-19 patients with disabilities is one of the most popular. Designed and led by people with physical, hearing, visual, and mental disabilities, it has helped health care providers rethink how they care for their patients.

“I learned how to communicate properly with patients with disabilities, and how to protect them from infection whenever they visit the hospital,” said Khaled Al Amro, a physician working in Ibn Al Haitham Hospital.

The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of Jordan’s health care providers. From challenges dealing with patients to balancing home and social responsibilities, men and women health professionals cope with stress in different ways.

“This training was very useful to me on a personal and professional level,” said Razan Al Qudah, a female nurse working in Istishari Hospital. “I learned how to personally cope with stress at work, and now can offer advice or help to my colleagues if I feel they are stressed out.”

LHSS has examined gender and social norms that have negatively impacted both women and men health care providers’ ability to perform their duties during the pandemic. For example, women have noted that as their work responsibilities intensified during the pandemic, so did their home and childcare responsibilities, leaving them emotionally and physically exhausted Male nurses reported experiencing discriminatory incidents in their communities, like being teased or denied services by shopkeepers. The LHSS gender-focused course discusses these kinds of challenges and suggests ways to manage them.

To ensure local ownership beyond the project, LHSS has uploaded all the trainings onto the Ministry of Health’s website so they are accessible to all health care providers. The project has also developed a database to track private health care providers who have taken the trainings, so the Ministry of Health can call on them not only for the ongoing COVID-19 response, but also for future health emergencies.

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