NCDs treatment disrupted in Covid time


The world is yet to get out of the grip of Coronavirus but the fight against this pandemic has cost dearly in the prevention and treatment of cancer, `hypertension, diabetics and other Non Communicable diseases, which kill more than 40 million people each year, according to a new survey published by the World Health Organisation.

Pointing out that several people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetics and other Non Communicable diseases have not been receiving it since Covid 19 pandemic began, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the countries should find innovative ways to see that essential services for NCDs are not affected.

The WHO surveyed 155 countries during a three-week period in May.


The WHO in its survey found that low-income countries were the worst affected. It said that health services were partially or completely disrupted in many countries. The survey found that more than half (53 per cent) of the countries surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for the treatment of hypertension. Forty Nine per cent were left out of treatment for diabetes and related complications, 42 per cent for cancer treatment and 31 per cent for cardiovascular emergencies, the WHO said. It also that Rehabilitation services were disrupted in almost two thirds (63 per cent) of the countries.

Reassignment of staff and postponing of screening

The WHO found that 94 per cent of the countries had partially or fully re-assigned the health ministry staff working on NCD to support COVID-19 response.

It said that screening campaigns for cancer were postponed in more than half of the countries. The global Organisation said that this was because of wide cancellation of appointment, decrease in public transport and lack of staff due to reassignments. It also reported that one in five countries also discontinued services due to shortages of medicines, diagnostics and other technologies.

However, the report also said that two thirds of the countries reported to have included NCD services in their national COVID19 preparedness and response plans. The WHO said that 72 per cent of high income countries reported of including NCD services in their national COVID 19 preparedness while it was included only by 42 per cent of low-income countries.  The WHO said that services to address cardiovascular disease, diabetes cancer and chronic respiratory disease were the most included. Meanwhile, dental services, tobacco cessation and rehabilitation and were not as widely included in response plans. The survey also said that 70 percent of countries started to allocate additional funding from the government budget to include the provision of NCD services in their national COVID-1 plan


The survey report said that more than 70 per cent of countries have collected data on the number of COVID-19 patients who also have an NCD. WHO Department of Non-communicable Diseases director Du Bente Mikkelsen said that it would take some time before the full extent of the impact is known. “What we know now, however, is that not only are people with NCD more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill with the virus, but many are unable access the treatment they need to manage their illnesses,” he said.


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