The forgotten diseases and lives

Terminal diseases like renal dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases and cancer have not vanished in this ongoing pandemic. However their treatments are fast disappearing

The spread of COVID-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern. Therefore the centre-stage attention that has been accorded to it by hospitals and medical practitioners world over is well justified. However, at the same time it is important to understand that other terminal and acute (often life-threatening) diseases cannot be sidelined.
Prevention and treatment services for non communicable diseases (NCDs) have been severely disrupted since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a WHO survey.
The survey states that more than half (53%) of the countries surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for hypertension treatment; 49% for treatment for diabetes and diabetes-related complications; 42% for cancer treatment and 31% for cardiovascular emergencies.
Rehabilitation services have been disrupted in almost two-thirds (63%) of countries, even though rehabilitation is key to a healthy recovery following severe illness from COVID-19.
As the coronavirus pandemic focuses medical attention on treating affected patients and protecting others from infection, how do we best care for people with non-Covid-related disease?
For some, new risks may warrant reconsideration of usual standards of care. For others, the need to protect caregivers and preserve critical care capacity may factor into decisions.
In the Northeast too, the cases of cancer, cardiovascular diseases to be precise have taken a back seat while catering to the COVID-19 needs.
Speaking to Fit Northeast, a government doctor based out in Guwahati (on grounds of anonymity) throws light on how the hospital management is coping up in this pandemic.
There have been mass cancellations of planned treatments of patients battling with terminal diseases
According to the doctor, the emergency cases related to accidents and other heart related diseases are not properly addressed.
Representative image
Image: Representative image
Citing an example he says that a 95-year-old patient who had cardiovascular disease could not get proper treatment in due course of time, resulting in loss of life.
Meanwhile cancer patients who are now more vulnerable (due to COVID-19) are being given extra care because the chemotherapy treatments have been halted in order to cater to other cases related to COVID-19.
There have been mass cancellations of planned treatments. Also there has been a marked decrease in public transport that has restricted the ability of patients to travel to health centres. Moreover, most of the health workers have been reassigned duties to support COVID-19 services.
Also today patients are scared to visit hospitals if at all required. The plain simple reason may be the fear of contracting the virus.
It is to be mentioned that the state government alongside the guidelines of the centre has asked all the hospitals to run a mandatory COVID-19 test or COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test.
Speaking to Fit Northeast, a patient who has recently undergone a by-pass surgery said, "I went to a city based hospital for my routine check-up but the doctors and nurses refused to address me and instead made me go through the COVID rapid test in which I tested positive."
Ironically there was a confusing development. "When I did the test again at a government boot the very same day I tested negative," he revealed.
With these kinds of instances wherein the patient and the hospital relation stand poles apart, it is hard to find a concrete way to deal with age related diseases. Little wonder then that the mortality rate in the state is now of mounting concern.

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