As we come to the close of 2020 and I write this address, my initial thought is ‘who would have guessed that this time last year, we would be facing a global pandemic?’
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we conduct ourselves in our professional and personal lives and Melbournians especially, are acutely aware of this after emerging from some of the toughest lockdown restrictions globally – nearly 4 months of stage 4 restrictions. The streets of Melbourne are a testament to the destructive impact this pandemic has had on local businesses and many ponder if our beautiful city ever be the same. Will the world ever be the same?
COVID-19 has affected every facet of work and the personal life and has imposed many challenges upon the health sector globally. From the time the WHO proclaimed this a global pandemic, health systems have had to rapidly adapt to address the risk of exposing health care workers to the virus whilst providing the highest levels of care possible, to those in need. To date, much of the research has looked at healthcare workers referring to them either as physicians or nurses, providing minimal or no sex disaggregated data for physicians.
The percentage of women physicians has steadily increased in many countries ranging from 53% in some European nations 28% in the African region and in most nations, the workplace challenges women doctors face, are unique. Women doctors are often the carers of children and elderly parents outside of the workplace, so that absence from home can potentially increase the burden on the family unit if they become ill and increase the strain on the health system and work colleagues if they become ill themselves. For these reasons, I have embarked a research project which aims to fill this gap in the research during COVID-19, with the support of MWIA and in my role as co-Chair of the MWIA Scientific and Research Subcommittee. Please take the time to contribute to the survey, “Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) member survey of COVID-19 experiences as healthcare providers”.
For further background information, visit the MWIA web links.
Supporting healthcare workers during a pandemic is a priority for the health of any nation. Understanding how to improve the workplace and the safety for frontline women doctors, will benefit the public directly.
Finally, I would like to thank you for all the work that you do, the contributions to the AFMW community you have made and for making the effort to support the health of all Australians. Please take time for self care over this festive period and remember to make the time to have your own health checks with your GP and I look forward to seeing you all in 2021.
Magdalena is the President of the AFMW (2020-) and former President of VMWS (2013 & 2017-2020).
Magdalena’s deep engagements with the RACGP over many years includes chair of Women in General Practice, is currently on the RACGP Expert Committee Quality Care, prior to that on RACGP eHealth Expert Committee. She is a regular media spokesperson on numerous health issues, being interviewed most weeks by mainstream and medical media. Magdalena has represented the RACGP at senate enquiries and has worked on several National Health Framework reviews.
Both an RACGP examiner and University examiner she supervises medical students and undertakes general practice research. Roles outside of RACGP include the Strategy and Policy Committee for Breast Cancer Network Australia, Board Director of Women’s Health Victoria and Chair of their Strategy and Policy subcommittee and the AMA Victoria GP Network Committee.
Magdalena has presented at the United Nations as part of the Australian Assembly and was recently appointed the Australian representative to the World Health Organisation, World Assembly on COVID 19, by the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA).
Dr Simonis is currently a member of the National COVID-19 Taskforce expert committee.