THD NewsDesk, GENEVA: In a recent survey released by the WHO, it was discovered that health services stand disrupted in most countries. The Report titled ‘Rapid Assessment of Continuity of Essential Health Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ was conducted across 105 countries, covering the period of March-June ’20. Data collected from senior health ministries indicated that 90% of the countries were having trouble maintaining their health systems.
The extensive survey was conducted with the purpose of getting a detailed perspective on the impact of the pandemic and adaptation strategies evolved by different countries to arise out of the health crisis. Twenty-five core health services were chosen as parameters to judge the present condition of medical facilities in various countries. 50% of the listed services suffered disruption in most countries.
“The survey shines a light on the cracks in our health systems, but it also serves to inform new strategies to improve healthcare provision during the Pandemic and beyond. COVID-19 should be a lesson to all countries that health is not an ‘either-or’ equation. We must better prepare for emergencies but also keep investing in health systems that fully respond to people’s needs throughout the life course.”, said Dr. Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
The Report gave us an insight into the dreary picture of health institutions in low and middle-income countries. Third World countries already coping with fragile health systems, now find themselves in a whirlpool of emergency cases they are not equipped to manage.
- Potentially life-saving emergency services were disrupted in almost a quarter of responding countries—Eg. Disruptions to 24-hour emergency room services, urgent blood transfusions, and emergency surgery.
- The most frequently disrupted areas include routine immunization – outreach services (70%), treatment for mental health disorders (61%), and cancer diagnosis and treatment (55%).
- The restricted public transport during lockdowns has caused great difficulties to commoners in accessing hospitals.
- Reduction in the deployment of staff.
A previous WHO Survey released in June foretold the jump in coronavirus cases as an aftermath of disordered healthcare services of non-communicable diseases(NCDs). The logic is simple – people suffering from pre-existing heart and respiratory diseases are at a higher risk of developing severe Covid-19 illness. If the harmless-seeming symptoms (coughing, chest pains, fever) are not mitigated immediately, contracting coronavirus could even prove fatal for them.
“Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 Pandemic began. It’s vital that countries find innovative ways to ensure that essential services for NCDs continue, even as they fight COVID-19.”, suggests WHO.
Adaptive strategies employed by different countries include telemedicine – online consultation and diagnosis of patients, generating public health awareness, and coordinating with non-profit organizations to provide free hygiene products. WHO is developing the ‘COVID19: Health Services Learning Hub’, a web-based platform that will allow the sharing of experiences and learning from innovative country practices.
Since the corona wave hit in March, hospitals have transitioned into battlegrounds for medical professionals. Countries are now recognizing the significance of investing a greater share in primary healthcare. The Pandemic has exposed the deficiencies in “world-class” healthcare facilities of the developed Western countries which are now lapsing into chaos.
“When we look back, we will see this as a moment that laid bare some of the dysfunctions and inequalities in the American healthcare system,” says Adam Gaffney, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
What we see on the outside is a shiny picture painted by capitalist countries. What lies in its core is a “private-for-profit” system engineered to cater to the affluent individuals having the resources to afford it. Governments are lacking an efficient public health system to provide free testing kits, ventilators, and ICU beds for its millions of citizens.
Concerned Healthcare Policy experts and economists have highlighted the need for a universal public healthcare system which can cater to the need of every economic class of society, and it is time that legislators start paying heed to them.
SOURCE: World Health Organisation