The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted health services around the world, according to officials at the World Health Organization.
“The impacts of Covid-19 go well beyond the intensive care units that you see with Covid patients,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during a press briefing in Geneva on Monday. “It’s having a direct, negative impact on the capacity of health systems around the world to deliver.”
Ryan said that WHO is analyzing a recent survey that was completed by WHO member states.
It shows that three quarters of member states reported partial or complete disruption of immunization services, rehabilitation services and dental services, he said.
Two-thirds have reported partial or complete disruption of non-communicable disease, chronic diseases diagnosis and treatment, family planning and treatment of mental health disorders.
More than half reported disruptions of malaria treatment campaigns, distribution of insecticide treated nets, antenatal care, cancer diagnosis and treatment, palliative care services, and services for sick children.
“What we’re seeing is a secondary effect, in terms of both provision and access of health care,” Ryan said.
This secondary effect challenges and threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.
The economic impacts are also having direct impacts “on the loss of purchasing power for many people, in terms of accessing health services in countries where there are user fees,” Ryan said.
“In this case, as health services become less and less accessible, as potential costs and user fees increase, and as people’s disposable income decreases, we fear that people will be making unhealthy choices, or choices not to seek health care because the cost of doing so is so difficult for them and their family,” he said.