Oncology Nursing in the Global South During COVID-19: Supplement to Special Issue. Ecancer, December 2021.

Published on by Kathryn Burns
In mid-2020, a call was made to oncology nurses in the Global South to share their experiences managing patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighteen submissions were received from 13 countries across Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Three were research-based and 15 were personal narratives on the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on the nurses, colleagues, patients and families. Three of the narratives were from oncology nurses working with cancer-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) locally or in one case, internationally. This supplement contains the 15 qualitative contributions, which eloquently illustrate the nurses’ sadnesses, vulnerabilities, and, indeed, strengths in the face of the pandemic. The nurses have brought to life the existing literature on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care: interruptions to cancer care; resource shortages; poor mental well-being and critical staff shortages. They have also enriched our understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the nurses, their patients and their families: struggling with inappropriate and ineffective communication; their terror of catching the virus and dying, coping with social bullying and stigma and finding coping mechanisms, e.g., through humour, exercise and personal as well as professional accommodation. Nurses, as ever, as critical members of any healthcare team, have risen to the challenge of delivering holistic care under duress, in hospital, outpatient, and community settings during the pandemic. The eye-opening research and narratives of oncology nurses’ experiences in the Global South provide needed evidence of the psychosocial consequences and mitigation support (including liaising with local and international NGOs). This evidence will serve for strategic public health planning and health system realignment in preparation for the inevitable future pandemics.

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