Based on data from 105 countries, The World Health Organisation published its first survey on how the coronavirus pandemic affected health systems in different countries. They acquired data from five different regions during March and through June 2020 and discovered that 90% of the countries that took part in the survey experience diversions and disruptions in their health care services. The countries that reported the greatest difficulties were the ones who were middle or low-income countries.
In most countries, the usual availability of health care services was completely suspended. Even critical care cases such as those of cancer screening, HIV therapy, and cancer treatment also experienced some high-risk disruptions in countries ranked as low-income.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the Director-General of WHO. He explained the importance of the survey saying that it not only exposes where health systems lack but also provides an opportunity for countries to learn new ways that they could improve their systems during and pandemic and also after it.
He points out that in many ways the pandemic has opened the eyes of countries to the importance of health and health care, he says it’s not an ‘either-or’ equation. It is necessary and important that the world continues to arrange themselves for emergencies and continues to invest in health systems so that they may serve the needs of the population throughout their lives.
The survey found from reports that countries usually experienced 50% disruptions in a group of twenty-five tracer services. While other areas of public health care that experienced these disruptions with respect to government protocols were fully suspended such as rehabilitation or dental care, other suspensions, and several services are going to have a significant negative impact on the population’s health in both the long run and the immediate today.
Important and essential facilities like life-saving services during emergencies also experienced disruption in almost 1/4 of the countries that responded. For instance, in an emergency room service that operates for 24 hours, of almost 22% of countries, blood transfusions that were urgent were disrupted in 23% of the total countries and emergency surgery suffered disruptions in 19% of all countries that responded.
Some disruptions experienced were also because of a mix of factors regarding supply and demand. 76% of all countries reported that they experience a decrease in outpatient care frequency of attendance because the demand for them was decreasing and also because there were financial difficulties besides other factors such as lock-downs. The most reoccurring factor was that elective services were canceled in 66% of the countries.
There were also other factors such as the staff being asked to provide coronavirus relief care instead of the roles they were doing before the coronavirus pandemic came around.
Considering the rising difficulties in the health care sector of all countries that supplied data, the WHO is continuing to work with countries to help them strengthen their systems to provide quality assistance even at a difficult time such as the coronavirus pandemic. They will continue to help countries share their experiences to help others learn and innovate new strategies for the health system of their own respective countries.