The collapse in health systems led to non-communicable chronic diseases being neglected, generating a serious impact on the population. Maternal mortality increased, while basic vaccination in children was reduced, producing a significant setback. Experts warn that health systems must change to put primary care at the center of the agenda, even more so when the pandemic ends.
During the pandemic, many countries recognized that their health systems had collapsed. Amid widespread fear, people stopped attending check-ups, diagnostic tests, and minor or scheduled procedures; which aggravated the incidence of non-communicable diseases, while impacting conditions that were already neglected.
Meanwhile, maternal mortality is a problem that has exploded during the pandemic. Experts warn that the death of pregnant women practically doubled compared to figures prior to March 2020, while care for the mother and the newborn were interrupted almost half, mainly due to the mother’s fear of consulting, but also because the resources were concentrated on attending the emergency caused by the Covid-19.
Another sector that was also affected was vaccination against other diseases. According to the World Health Organization and Unicef, globally, 2020 saw the biggest setback since 2009.
23 million minors did not receive basic childhood vaccines in that year, a figure that is almost 4 million more than that registered in 2019. In turn, the Pan American Health Organization warned of a high risk of disease outbreaks due to lack of routine vaccination .
There are many lessons that can result from a situation like the one the world has experienced in these almost two years. It is practically a generalized opinion among experts that health systems have to be structurally modified, putting primary care at the center of the agenda. However, the researchers warn that the planet is not ready to face similar situations in the short term.