Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on other health issues

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had many impacts on global health beyond those caused by the COVID-19 disease itself. It has led to a reduction in hospital visits for other reasons. There have been 38 per cent fewer hospital visits for heart attack symptoms in the United States and 40 per cent fewer in Spain.[1] The head of cardiology at the University of Arizona said, "My worry is some of these people are dying at home because they're too scared to go to the hospital."[2] There is also concern that people with strokes and appendicitis are not seeking timely treatment.[2] Shortages of medical supplies have impacted people with various conditions.[3]

In several countries there has been a marked reduction of spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, attributable to COVID-19 quarantines, social distancing measures, and recommendations to not engage in casual sex.[4][5] Similarly, in some places, rates of transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses significantly decreased during the pandemic.[6][7][8]

The pandemic has also negatively impacted mental health globally, including increased loneliness resulting from social distancing[9] and depression and domestic violence from lockdowns.[10] As of June 2020, 40% of U.S. adults were experiencing adverse mental health symptoms, with 11% having seriously considered trying to kill themselves in the past month.[11]

Paying attention and taking measures to prevent mental health problems and post-traumatic stress syndrome, particularly in women, is already a need.[12]

Mental health[edit]

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of people around the world.[13] Similar to the past respiratory viral epidemics, such as the SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the influenza epidemics, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in different population groups, including the healthcare workers, general public, and the patients and quarantined individuals.[14] The Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee of the United Nations recommends that the core principles of mental health support during an emergency are "do no harm, promote human rights and equality, use participatory approaches, build on existing resources and capacities, adopt multi-layered interventions and work with integrated support systems."[15] COVID-19 is affecting people's social connectedness, their trust in people and institutions, their jobs and incomes, as well as imposing a huge toll in terms of anxiety and worry.[16]

COVID-19 also adds to the complexity of substance use disorders (SUDs) as it disproportionately affects people with SUD due to accumulated social, economic, and health inequities.[17] The health consequences of SUDs (for example, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, immunosuppression and central nervous system depression, and psychiatric disorders) and the associated environmental challenges (e.g., housing instability, unemployment, and criminal justice involvement) increase risk for COVID-19. COVID-19 public health mitigation measures (i.e., physical distancing, quarantine and isolation) can exacerbate loneliness, mental health symptoms, withdrawal symptoms and psychological trauma. Confinement rules, unemployment and fiscal austerity measures during and following the pandemic period can affect the illicit drug market and drug use patterns.

Childhood vaccinations[edit]

UNICEF estimates that 117 million children across 37 countries may not receive their immunizations in time to prevent a measles outbreak. Pediatricians in the United States are worried about childhood vaccination rates. In April, the CDC reported that 400,000 fewer doses of measles vaccine were ordered in 2020 compared to the same time last year.[18]

Mosquito-borne diseases[edit]

Although it is highly unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted by mosquitoes,[19] the pandemic nevertheless has a large impact on the control of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever. Reasons are disruptions in medical supply chains, patients avoiding hospitals, and halted mosquito control campaigns such as removal of breeding sites or distribution of insecticide treated bed nets.[20][21][22]

Health insurance[edit]

Millions of Americans lost their health insurance after losing their jobs.[23][24][25][26] The Independent reported that Families USA "found that the spike in uninsured Americans – adding to an estimated 84 million people who are already uninsured or underinsured – is 39 per cent higher than any previous annual increase, including the most recent surge at the height of the recession between 2008 and 2009 when nearly 4 million non-elderly Americans lost insurance."[27]

Recommendations[edit]

UNFPA recommends that governments maintain sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information and services, protect health workers and limit spread of COVID-19. This includes a comprehensive approach to SRHR information and services encompassing antenatal care (ANC), care during childbirth, postnatal care (PNC), contraception, safe abortion care, prevention, testing and treatment of HIV, where relevant, as well as sexually transmitted infections (STI), detection and treatment of GBV, and sexual health services and information.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Garcia S, Albaghdadi MS, Meraj PM, Schmidt C, Garberich R, Jaffer FA, et al. (June 2020). "Reduction in ST-Segment Elevation Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Activations in the United States During COVID-19 Pandemic". Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 75 (22): 2871–2872. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2020.04.011. PMC 7151384. PMID 32283124.
  2. ^ a b 'Where are all our patients?': Covid phobia is keeping people with serious heart symptoms away from ERs, Stat News, Usha Lee McFarling, 23 April 2020.
  3. ^ Faust JS (April 28, 2020). "Medication Shortages Are the Next Crisis". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  4. ^ "Sexually transmitted infections surveillance reports - Reports". www.health.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
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  15. ^ "Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial support" (PDF). MH Innovation. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 31, 2020. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  16. ^ "OECD". read.oecd-ilibrary.org. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
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