Revisiting healthcare policies during Covid-19

COVID-19 is presently considered the deadliest pandemic in the 21st century.It has pushed the majority of the population inside their houses and the economy of the world has collapsed due to its menace. Not everyone was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic and the healthcare systems faced the greatest challenge of all time. With an increasing number of coronavirus patients in hospitals and clinics, the healthcare system has proved to be inefficient in most of the major countries considered today as superpowers.

The question arises why did the healthcare system in those countries face such a tough challenge? The lack of proper preparedness and awareness of the emerging virus has led to more than 340,000 deaths worldwide. The healthcare sector in the world has acknowledged the fact that more investments need to be done in it. There can be many such viruses and outbreaks like COVID-19 and the healthcare policies need to be restructured and formulated accordingly.

There have been certain policy recommendations laid down by the WHO European Region to strengthen the healthcare system response to COVID-19 to break the transmission and diagnosing the patients with all the essentials. They are as follows:

WHO healthcare policy – Recommendations

• Proactive communication

It is advised that the communication team at the ministry of health, public agencies, and the local governments should be proactive in responding to situations. The risk communication efforts should be supplemented by broadcasting clear messages related to the symptoms, first contact, use of healthcare services, and financial measures related to the COVID-19. The population has to be reassured about the continuity and uninterrupted supply of these services, medicines, and health equipment.

• Emergency response

The national and local public healthcare services play an important role in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. It should focus on providing essential services to the healthcare systems of the entire country. The countries should immediately react to the situation and create a surge in the capacity to deliver the essential services.

• The first point of contact

With the onset of the outbreak, people will seek help from healthcare services. The policy recommends the governments to develop the first point of contact strategy so that people can communicate easily. It should facilitate the vulnerable groups and foreign nationals by providing them a centralized hotline facility, online platforms, and physical locations for primary healthcare facilities.

• Protection of healthcare workers

Despite the policies, people might not listen to the instructions carefully and may approach the healthcare units which are not designated for COVID-19 services. This might lead to the spread of thevirus among healthcare workers. This is a major blow for the healthcare system. To prevent this, activation of standard operating measures such as preventing and controlling infections and protection of healthcare workers is needed.

• Specialized hospitals for COVID-19

There should be specialized hospitals thatcan provide care to COVID-19 patients with severe presentations.Based on the demographics, outbreak characteristics, and treatment guidelines, the hospital should be set up immediately. The governments should designate hospitals to manage COVID-19 cases. The non-COVID services in those hospitals should be postponed and the rooms are being repurposed into ICUs.

• Essential medicalservices

The identification of essential medicines, services, and types of equipmentthat are needed in the system currently should be continuous inflow. The primary care and non-urgent activities should be moved to online platforms and it will ease the pressure from the hospitals and the healthcare system.

• Training of healthworkers

COVID-19 is a new word in the healthcare sector and the frontline healthcare workers are not trained to handle the pandemic. It is important to develop a workforce that will be trained to deliver healthcare services. To reduce the load on the frontline worker, call in volunteers, and train them according to the medical guidelines. Basic training such as infection control andphysical care should be given to them.

• Review the supply chain

Supply chain problems regarding the supply of essential medicines and medical equipment can be a problem in the pandemic due to the shutdown of the manufacturing units. The products for emergencies are to be categorized and supplied from various sources. TheWHO Technical Specifications developed for COVID-19 states that medical products should follow the minimum standards of quality. The pharmacies should be roped in and the supply should be an uninterrupted one.

The article has revisited the healthcare policies surrounding the global pandemic COVID-19 and has talked about the recommendations laid down by WHO to smoothen and strengthen the ecosystem.

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