Rise in non-Covid deaths as healthcare fixated on Covid

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Rise in non-Covid deaths as healthcare fixated on Covid

Sunday, 03 October 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

Rise in non-Covid deaths as healthcare fixated on Covid

20% increase in death from TB alone, predicts FICCI study

The exponential rise in Covid cases during the pandemic shifted the health system’s priority to treating affected patients, severely impacting the care for patients with non-Covid diseases, which may result in nearly 20 per cent increased deaths from tuberculosis alone, according to a White Paper by FICCI-Elsevier released on Saturday.

The paper revealed that while the delay in detection, diagnosis, and treatment may lead to nearly 20 per cent more deaths in adults due to tuberculosis during Covid-19, another 10 per cent increased mortality could take place due to HIV over the next five years.

Also an estimated 20-22 lakh infants (approximately 260 lakh children per year) requiring vaccination against other diseases were not being vaccinated now due to shifting priority. This could lead to an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease.

The White Paper by FICCI’s working group on infectious diseases and a team of experts from AIIMS Jodhpur thus called for developing a concrete strategy to deal with other infections and their aftermath.

“New, existing, and re-emerging infectious diseases are estimated to be the cause of one-fourth of all deaths across the globe. The exponential rise in Covid cases during the pandemic shifted the health system’s priority to treating affected patients, severely impacting the care for patients with non-Covid diseases,” said (Hony) Brig Dr Arvind Lal, Chair, FICCI Swasth Bharat Task Force, in a statement.

“Disruptions in screening, case identification, rehabilitation, and referral systems have further resulted in a substantial decrease in the diagnosis of other infectious diseases as well as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs),” he added.

Similarly, at least 51,100 live-saving cancer surgeries were canceled in India from the end of March to the end of May, CovidSurg Collaborative, a research network of surgeons and anesthetists in 77 countries, including India, had estimated in its report published in the British Journal of Surgery in May.

The FICCI paper recommends an urgent need for the Indian healthcare ecosystem to focus on point-of-care solutions. This will bridge the gaps and strengthen healthcare professionals to tackle such pandemics in future.

The immediate and direct potential impact of Covid-19 has already resulted in thousands of lives lost and significant incremental costs to the healthcare and livelihood system. In addition to the human toll, treating patients with Covid-19 has a financial impact.

While the exact number of individuals that have contracted Covid-19 is difficult to quantify given certain limitations in testing, the number of people seeking treatment for Covid-19 has been very high, the report suggested.

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