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Thursday 14 May 2020 , 3:27 pm

Covid-19 Crisis Disrupting the Treatments of Other Chronic Diseases

Most of the healthcare specialists, management, staff and infrastructure are engaged to fight Covid-19 crisis. Plus, large amount of investments have been done to combat the pandemic. These sudden changes in the healthcare system are hampering care management for other chronic diseases like Cancer, AIDS-related Illness and Mental Health.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that COVID-19 could become endemic disease like HIV. In its online briefing, WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan told, “I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” he added. “I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”

Till now, over 100 potential vaccines have been developed to find the cure for this disease. Out of these vaccines, several are in clinical trials, but healthcare experts have underscored the difficulties of finding effective vaccines against coronaviruses.

As per the data, a large amount has been invested in the treatments of infected patients, medical equipment, R&D of vaccine and healthcare infrastructure. Plus, most of the healthcare specialists, management, staff and infrastructure are engaged to fight Covid-19 crisis. These rapid changes in healthcare are hampering care management for other chronic diseases like Cancer, AIDS-related Illness and Mental Health.

Cancer Treatment

Patients suffering from cancer are experiencing a disruption in their treatment due to Covid-19 crisis. Hospitals are filling rapidly with Covid-19 patients, it becomes safer for cancer patients to avoid hospital visits to avoid infection. On the other side, since chemotherapy sessions make the immune system weak, oncologists have advised their cancer patients to delay chemotherapy.

In fact, in some regions in the U.S. and Europe, healthcare authorities have recommended to reschedule cancer treatments after considering the patient’s health condition and urgency of the treatment.

On 28th February, the WHO published a 'Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)'. The report concluded that, in China, the fatality rate for cancer patients with comorbidity was 7.6% as compared with 3.8% overall and 1.4% was for patients with no comorbidities. The researchers thought this change is a result of the disturbance in patient care due to the Covid-19.

AIDS-Related Illness

A modelling group convened by the WHO and UNAIDS has estimated that if enough efforts are not made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in healthcare services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021. In 2018, an estimated 470,000 people died of AIDS-related deaths in the region.

In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 25.7 million people were living with HIV and 16.4 million (64%) were taking antiretroviral therapy in 2018. Those people now risk having their treatment interrupted because HIV services are closed or unable to supply antiretroviral therapy because of the disruptions in the supply chain. Another reason for the disruption is that services have become overwhelmed due to competing for needs to support the coronavirus response.

“We must read this as a wake-up call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health services. For HIV, some countries are already taking important steps, for example ensuring that people can collect bulk packs of treatment, and other essential commodities, including self-testing kits, from drop-off points, which relieves pressure on health services and the health workforce. We must also ensure that global supplies of tests and treatments continue to flow to the countries that need them,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.

Mental Health

The Covid-19 is not only damaging physical health but also it is increasing psychological sufferings. Most of the population have been forced to stay at home all around the globe. A mental illness crisis is spreading at an exponential rate as people are surrounded by deaths and diseases occurred by the pandemic of COVID-19. In this crisis, it has been observed that many people are feeling anxious and hopeless about the future.

Emerging studies and surveys from various organizations are continuously showing the impact of COVID-19 on mental health worldwide. Experts in Psychology say that surge in the cases of depression and anxiety have been recorded in several countries. Some of the main reasons behind this rising illness are:

  • Millions of people are going through economic loss, losing livelihoods, and their income.
  • People are frequently receiving misinformation and rumors regarding the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Uncertainty about the question of how long this crisis will last.
  • Domestic violence is increasing
  • Healthcare human resources are reporting an increased need for psychological support

Mental health and treatments for diseases related to it are always been ignored. But, these patients also deserve proper care and medication. Like other diseases, this sector also needs efficient infrastructure, initiatives by government or healthcare organizations, and rich amount of funding. Plus, social awareness is also important so that no patient can hesitate to come forward for the treatment.

Recently, the United Nations (U.N.) presented policy guidelines on COVID-19 and mental health. The policy states that the historic under-investment in mental health needs to be redressed without delay to reduce immense suffering among hundreds of millions of people and mitigate long-term social and economic costs to society.

Neha Mule

Neha writes articles on sectors including medicine, food, materials, and science & technology. A qualified statistician, she has the ability to observe and analyze the trends in global markets and write compelling articles that help CXOs in decision making. She is a bookworm and loves to read fiction, lifestyle, science and technology. Neha comes with 6 years of experience in content writing and editing that involves blog writing, preparation of study materials and OERs.

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