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COVID-19: Half the world unable to provide regular primary care

More than a year after the pandemic, countries remain preoccupied with COVID-19 concerns that compromise other healthcare

The latest “wrist poll” – the second since the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic – by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that about 90 percent of countries still report disruptions in essential health services. This is due to the preoccupation with emergency response to the pandemic.

Judging by the findings of the latest wrist survey, not much progress has been made in ensuring essential health services since the last study period: Countries still have to make important decisions in responding to COVID-19 that restrict access to care for other can adversely affect health issues. Redeployment of personnel to provide COVID-19 emergency response and temporary closures of health facilities and services continue.

The overwhelming pandemic response has left millions of people around the world missing during essential health concerns. “The biggest impact reported by nearly half of the countries is the provision of day-to-day primary care to prevent and manage some of the most common health problems. Long-term care for chronic conditions, rehabilitation and end-of-life palliative care is also still severely disrupted – and has serious implications for the elderly and people with disabilities, ”the latest wrist poll found.

In one fifth of the countries surveyed, hospitals have yet to address “potentially life-saving emergencies,” critical and surgical care interventions at the pre-pandemic level. “Two-thirds of countries also report interruptions in elective surgery, with cumulative consequences as the pandemic lasts,” the survey said.

Likewise, a third of countries have failed to resume normal immunization services. However, the survey shows progress in the first three months of 2021. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to global health, beyond the impact of the disease itself,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director from UNICEF.

“Interruptions in vaccination services have serious consequences for children. As we scale up the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, we need to make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of essential childhood vaccinations. We cannot allow the current fight against COVID-19 to undermine our fight against measles, polio or other vaccine-preventable diseases. Long-term immunization disruptions have long-term consequences for the health of children. The time to catch up is now, ”she added.