Don’t neglect other diseases for Covid
The third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how lax we have been as a country in putting in place the necessary measures to stop new infections.
Indeed, the current containment measures have shown that the fight against the novel coronavirus will continue to be given priority.
This means that other diseases and infections that have been around before Covid-19 risk taking a backseat, a dangerous state of affairs that must be avoided.
Already there are fears that diseases such as tuberculosis will continue to ravage communities as outreach and services have been paused because of coronavirus.
By last month, a 20 per cent drop in diagnosis and treatment of the diseases had been registered worldwide.
This has set back TB elimination efforts by 12 years, according to the Stop TB Partnership.
By Aids Day 2020, Unicef had raised alarm over increased HIV infections especially among adolescents, following prolonged closure of schools.
Other unintended consequences such as lack of access to vital reproductive health services are also feared to be on the rise.
Same is the case with non-communicable diseases, whose diagnosis and treatment has been declining in the face of Covid-19.
Patients are scared of contracting the virus upon visiting health centres, which spells doom for a set of diseases that account for 50 per cent of admissions in hospitals and 33 per cent of deaths in the country.
Against this background, it is vital that the government finds a way of addressing these diseases even as it fights Covid-19.
The burden of diseases such as cancer, TB, malaria and diabetes, among others, was already taking a toll on the health system, and with services and community outreach neglected, the impact will be felt for many years to come.
The impact will also be profound on individuals and families, whose incomes have been affected by lockdowns, curfew, closure of businesses, and firing of employees.
Factors such as good nutrition, psychosocial support and prices of non-medical items will also be affected, which means management of preventable diseases will face setbacks.
It is time the government got back to the drawing board to ensure that even as it battles Covid-19, provisions are made to stop spread of other diseases.
Integrated care where individuals can access diagnosis and treatment for all ailments to ensure they live healthy must be put in place before things take a turn for the worst.