The ongoing crisis and containment measures are likely to impact mental health. Many mental health patients now have difficulties accessing healthcare services. Also, continuous social isolation and COVID-19-related stress are likely to increase the number of mental health cases. The stress levels experienced among various members of society are likely to vary. For example, people who became unemployed or closed their businesses due to coronavirus are more likely to develop stress and anxiety. Therefore, governments should ensure that there is an integration of mental health in response measures.
The long term impact of COVID-19 on public health should be addressed by health and public authorities as quickly as possible and in a sustainable way. Non-communicable diseases will continue to increase and are estimated to cause 75 percent of the total deaths in 2030. Chronic conditions resulting from NCDs intensively use healthcare resources. For instance, 70 percent of the health resources in England was spent on 30 percent of the population with long-term health conditions. Also, mental health issues are estimated to become the number-one cause of mortality and morbidity across the world by 2030. The ongoing communicable diseases management, including vaccination, will still be a major area of focus.
COVID-19 has provided food for thought in many areas of public health that need to improve for us to respond to a similar health crisis in the future efficiently. COVID-19 has affected some countries more than others, and this has primarily been a matter of strategy. Some countries adopted better measures to combat the coronavirus early in its evolution. For example, countries that quickly started doing intensive testing and contact tracing, isolating infected patients, enforcing isolation, and implementation of mandatory use of face mask rules allowed some countries to achieve more rapid progress than others. One of the major challenges in addressing the crisis during the early stages was a large number of asymptomatic patients. Decentralized governance systems led to inequalities in response measures in various areas. Therefore, the healthcare sector needs to figure out how to improve this in the future.
The current crisis will undoubtedly reshape public health as we know it. Many measures need to be put in place to respond to a similar crisis in the future and safeguard public health. Following the implications of COVID-19 on public health, the question is, how will resource-limited healthcare systems reconfigure to tackle unpredictable large-scale crises such as COVID-19 better while still remaining sustainable?…
In the majority of countries surveyed, the ministry health had partially or entirely reassigned staff working on non-communicable diseases to support COVID-19. The survey also revealed a widespread postponement of public screening projects (for instance, for cervical and breast cancer). This was consistent with the original recommendation by the WHO to reduce facility-based services that are not urgent and focus efforts on tackling COVID-19.
However, the primary reasons for reducing or discontinuing services were the cancellation of scheduled treatments, the reduced availability of public transport, and the limited number of staff available to facilitate such treatments since most of them had been reassigned to support the fight against COVID-19. The survey revealed a correlation between the evolution of COVID-19 in a country and the number of disruptions to treatments for non-communicable diseases. As the coronavirus evolves from sporadic transmissions to community transmissions, health services (as well as critical financial services like credit unions) become more disrupted.
In the near future, the public health sector will face two significant challenges. The first will be the mental and physical exhaustion of the healthcare staff and strained hospital infrastructure. The second challenge will be the increasing backlog of healthcare procedures. Many people who need treatment have not been visiting hospitals since the advent of COVID-19. This has mainly been because of the stigma associated with being a COVID-19 victim. The fear or inability of high-risk patients to see a doctor is delaying crucial cancer procedures and disrupting the management of chronic diseases. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, consultations have reduced among specialists and general practitioners. In addition, containment measures, compounded by the poor state of the economy, will undoubtedly give rise to mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety), and physical health issues (such as unbalanced nutrition and weight gain).
The healthcare sector provides essential services such as testing, nutrition services, immunization, and maternal as well as antenatal care. These services benefit the most vulnerable people in the community. The advent of COVID-19 has negatively impacted the provision of these services since most public health efforts have been redirected towards preventing its spread. The suspension of mass vaccination programs by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization in March 2020, has delayed immunization projects in various regions. In some regions, immunization projects have been delayed due to insufficient shipments caused by the reduction of cargo flights and cancellation of flights. If this trend continues, countries that need essential vaccines are likely to deplete their stock. Immunization outreach projects have also been impacted due to the restricted movement of people. This may lead to an increase in diseases such as human papillomavirus, yellow fever, polio, and measles, which will negatively affect the recent gains in reducing child mortality. Over 13 million children globally have not received vaccinations for different diseases since the pandemic began.
There is an increasing number of COVID-19 patients who continue to occupy isolation centers and public hospitals. The vast numbers of patients are likely to overwhelm these facilities. Consequently, healthcare centers will have a hard time coping with the numbers. This implies that these healthcare facilities will fall short of providing essential services, especially non-communicable disease treatments.…
The novel coronavirus is one of the most devastating pandemics in recent history. The most recent time when the world witnessed a pandemic whose effects resemble those of COVID-19 was during the H3N2-caused flu pandemic of 1968, which claimed over a million lives. As of this writing, over 14 million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, including 609,986 people who have died. The primary concern of the human race right now is to survive COVID-19. People have started adopting the best practices like social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands. Many countries across the globe have adopted mandatory stay-at-home guidelines, shutting down public places, businesses, and schools. Economies across the globe have taken a severe hit, with the IMF warning in April, that it is the worst downturn since the Great depression. Public Health is one of the sectors that has been significantly affected by the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 presented a new and unpredictable challenge that the healthcare system was not equipped to deal with, and the urgent mobilization of resources needed to combat the crisis has led to health service disruption, staff reassignment, and screening postponement, among others. In this article, we will examine the impact of COVID-19 on public health and its implication on the health sector.
What is COVID-19?
Before we delve into our subject of discussion, let’s take a moment and briefly examine COVID-19. So, we have all witnessed the devastating effects of COVID-19 from various news reports and the media. But what really is this phenomenon referred to as COVID-19? How is it spread? What are some of the symptoms?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause disease. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 strain of the coronaviruses. It is spread when someone comes into contact with droplets emitted by an infected person when they sneeze or cough. These droplets only travel a few feet away then fall to the ground, or on surfaces, and that’s why social distancing and sanitizing public surfaces is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. The virus has an incubation period of 14 days. Symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, body or muscle aches, headache, vomiting or nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.
Impact of COVID-19 on Public Health
The novel coronavirus has partly or entirely disrupted health services, especially those related to non-communicable diseases. This is an issue of great concern since non-communicable deaths are the leading cause of death across the world, killing 41 million annually, which represents around 70% of total deaths globally. People who have non-communicable diseases face the highest risk of critical COVID-19 related illnesses or death. According to a recent survey by the WHO, which examined 155 countries, over half of the nations surveyed had partially or entirely disrupted hypertension treatment services, 31 percent for cardiovascular treatments, 42 percent for cancer-related treatments, and 49 percent for diabetes-related treatments. Although rehabilitation is a crucial component for a healthy recovery for COVID-19 victims, there was a disruption of rehabilitation services in over 60 percent of the country’s services. This implies that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many patients who require health services for diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer have not been able to receive treatment. It is essential for countries to develop innovative measures to ensure that basic services for non-communicable diseases are being offered, even as they continue to tackle COVID-19.…