Finland’s health care has been streamlined to thin. There are only a quarter of intensive care facilities per capita in Germany.
Normal Life and livelihoods will again have to be curtailed so that too many Finns do not fall ill at the same time and so that health care and society can withstand a new epidemic.
However, it is not enough for us to survive this wave. It is high time we decided how to deal with the future. Over the course of the autumn, it has become clear that the coronavirus and the morbidity it causes cannot be eradicated, even with high vaccination coverage.
Vaccines also get infections and pass them on, so the virus continues to circulate. Vaccinations can effectively combat a serious form of the disease, but as long as there are enough people who are not vaccinated, there will be enough patients in hospitals who are seriously ill.
Whether to choose the solution is forced vaccinations or perpetual restrictions that move the problem forward but do not eliminate it?
A third option is to accept that unvaccinated larvae become ill and treat them. In order to be able to fulfill the task so that other patients in need of treatment do not suffer, the resources of medical care must be strengthened.
The hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa Hus has set an example. Just over a week ago, Hus council decided to permanently increase intensive care facilities. There are now resources for about five additional places, and by 2023 the goal is to increase by one-fifth to the current 70 places.
It would be appropriate for other regions to expand their intensive care capacity. At present, there are few intensive care places in Finland compared to many European countries. The number of seats in Finland as a whole is normally 250–270. In the early stages of the pandemic, it was estimated that the number could be raised to around 500 in an emergency. It would require the downsizing of surgery, and it cannot be undertaken on purpose.
As the minimum number of treatment readiness is still maintained, already 50 coronary patients in intensive care units make it difficult to treat other patients. Therefore, during the autumn, crisis awareness has been demanded in Finland and more restrictions have been placed on the incidence rates of medical care, which are have been among the lowest in Europe in terms of population and exceeded many times in most countries.
The reason for the scarcity is the efficiency requirements of healthcare. According to the OECD Finland spends 9.6 per cent of its GDP on health care, less than all other Nordic countries and almost all Western European countries. In Germany, France and the United Kingdom, health care accounts for more than 12% of GDP, and in Norway and Sweden for more than 11% of GDP.
In addition to intensive care units, there would be a need for a couple of infectious hospitals specializing in coronary heart disease, where patients would receive the most expert treatment possible. The biggest challenge is the shortage of skilled staff. Caregivers need to be further trained and money needs to be set aside for their salaries. Decent compensation also brings professionals who have moved to other jobs back to positions where they are now really needed.
Change is not treated in the blink of an eye, but treatment is not only needed during the pandemic phase but long after it. When unvaccinated people have contracted their disease and thus gained immunity, the burden of the disease is reduced but hardly disappears. In fragile elderly and immunocompromised people, vaccinations may not be enough to fight a serious illness. In others, protection may occasionally wane, making serious illness possible. And as we have now seen, new forms of the virus are also emerging that bypass the old resistance.
There is apparently a new infectious disease among us that is permanently returning to infect people as well as influenza and other respiratory infections have forever done. Vaccinations and the occasional mild infections give most people protection from a serious illness. Those with bad luck need to be cared for as well as possible. It costs, but not as much as, an eternal spiral that ruins everyone’s life.
The editorials are HS’s statements on a topical issue. The writings are prepared by HS’s editorial staff and reflect the magazine principle.
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