Coronavirus spread throughout the world have revealed the fragile healthcare system of the world. A huge number of COVID patients around the globe are dying without any medical attention. It has shown how ill-equipped we are to fight any such pandemic.
How is the global and domestic healthcare system challenges by this unprecedented virus attack? What will this pandemic teach us? and how will the healthcare system be in the post-COVID era?
What is primary healthcare? and why is it important?
WHO (world health organization) says “Primary health care (PHC) addresses the majority of a person’s health needs throughout their lifetime. This includes physical, mental, and social well-being and it is people-centered rather than disease-centered.”
Primary healthcare is a basic human right that every person should have. According to WHO primary health care system has three approaches for providing every individual a better health i.e.
- Fulfilling individual’s medical need for their entire life
- Focusing on the broader health issues (social, environmental, economic, etc) faced by a larger number of people
- Empowering people themselves and making them capable of keeping care of their own health
PHC has immense importance. It tries to provide a flourishing life to everyone, to the most capable as well as the most deprived one. The 40-year report by WHO shows achievements in the sector of public health. Now people are living a more healthy life and live longer, than 40 years back. There have been various innovations in the field of medicine, health workforce, health finance, etc.
But the stress that COVID-19 has put on the global health care system has not been seen in many decades. It forces us to question our healthcare systems and despite all these advancements done in the past century why are we constantly failing in controlling the virus’s spread?
Where is the healthcare system challenged the most?
It would be very difficult to pinpoint a single area where the global and domestic health care system is challenged the most. The novel coronavirus has omnipotent effects on every sector, but the healthcare is at the front foot to battle the pandemic.
1. Pregnancy and Parenting
The Women’s Health office at the Department of Health and Human Services says that for pregnant women it is important to go through frequent checkups and screenings until the delivery. But with the pandemic’s no-contact systems, it is difficult for the doctors to do a proper checkup unless a very serious case. A regular visit to the obstetrician is not possible for most people.
Whereas for infants a regular visit to the pediatrician is important. During the early days, the child is very much prone to diseases; some of which, if not treated could be lethal for the child. For a healthy baby, various vaccines are important, at a specific time. But taking babies out would expose them to the novel coronavirus, and for babies, the virus has a high mortality rate.
Sacha Deshmukh, Executive Director of the UNICEF U.K. says that due to the pandemic about 117 million children would miss their vaccines.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention based in the U.S. says that in some cases the doctors have to separate the just-born baby form its mother; when the mother is suspected to have SARS-CoV-2. In the U.K. a few hospitals have restricted all in-person in the maternity ward. In Germany, some of the hospitals have restricted farther from entering the delivery room.
2. Regular Appointments and Check-ups
As soon as the WHO declared SARS-CoV-2 a global pandemic, all around the world doctors clinics have shut. People no more find it safe to visit the clinics. Appointments and regular-checkups have canceled.
In the United Kingdom, the National Health Services; have advised people to switch to online mode for seeking medical advice. People were told to visit the doctor only when the doctor himself has asked them, in serious cases.
In the United States; the CDC said, “healthcare systems prioritize urgent visits and delay elective care to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings” A number of surgeries have been canceled and this would without a doubt cause long-term problems for the patients.
3. Other Fatal Diseases
During the pandemic hospitals around the world were running out of bed to contain the patients of COVID-19, but in the pre-COVID era, there have been hundreds of fatal diseases with which people were battling with. But, because of this unprecedented virus; those patients are left behind.
WHO on 12 May 2020 asked hospitals and governments globally to focus on the TB patients, to provide them with the facilities required. University of California San Francisco released data that showed that patients battling with cancer are having a higher risk of being infected by the virus; those who had chemotherapy or any surgery recently than those who have not been through any therapy or surgery recently. For them, this creates a catch-22 situation.
Doctors in maximum parts of the world have not returned to their homes from months in order to keep their families safe along with treating the COVID-patients. Many health workers have lost their lives while curing the corona-patients. Hospitals constantly running out of beds and ventilators. All this depicts the picture of the weak global health care system.
The pandemic has and is causing an unforgettable loss to the world. But along with that, it has taught us the importance of a strong health care system.
In the post-COVID era, the governments globally must focus on strengthening the health care system; so that if any such virus strikes again then we will be well equipped to give it a tough fight.