Impact of COVID – 19 among NCD patient
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviors factors. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (CVD) (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are emerging as the leading cause of death globally and also in the South East Asia region due to many social determinants like unhealthy lifestyles, globalization, trade and marketing, demographic and economic transitions, leading to behavioral and metabolic risk factors.
Non- Communicable diseases kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Each year, 15 million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years over 85% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO country profile 2018, NCDs are estimated to account for 66% of all NCD deaths in Nepal.
COVID – 19 and its impact among NCD patients
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught everyone the importance of building healthy and resilient environment with equal attention on both communicable and non-communicable diseases. It has exposed the link between NCDs and COVID-19. Prevention and treatment services for NCDs have been severely disrupted since the pandemic begun. The disruption of routine health services and medical supplies increased risks and vulnerabilities to NCD patients. It is and should be the area of concern. Many people who need the treatment for diseases like Cancer, CVD and Diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the pandemic begun. Health services have been partially or completely disrupted for hypertensive treatment, treatment of diabetic complications, cancer treatment and cardiovascular emergencies. Also, the preventive measures as lockdown, quarantine, social distancing and travel restrictions to reduce the pandemic have significantly and specifically affected people living with NCDs leading to behavioral risk factors as physical inactivity, inability to secure healthy foods, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. Without proper management, chronic conditions can get worse due to stressful situation regarding restrictions, insecure economic situation and changes in normal health behavior.
It has been difficult situation for all of us. Communities can respond with solidarity and cooperation with this scenario. It is vital to find out innovative ways to ensure accessibility and availability of essential services for NCD.
What is necessary?
- Assessment of impact of COVID-19 on the health and economy of people suffering from NCDs as well as the accessibility of essential medication.
- Identification of effective ways of screening individuals with NCDs along with suitable measures for continuation of treatment during pandemic.
What can be done?
- Spending more time indoors have reduced physical inactivity and deterioration of mental health. Technology can be used to provide online information on exercise and management of mental health, motivating people.
- People are facing hardships in gaining access to medications, use of telemedicine can be encouraged.
- Community level ambulance should be made well equipped for patients with NCDs in any emergencies.
- Specific advice should be made available nationally and locally for patients with NCDs, family and caregivers.
Prevention and control of NCDs are crucial in preparedness for the present and future public health threats. The COVID-19 response continuation is needed along with strengthened focus on NCD prevention, control and management accounting the needs of people with NCDs to optimize public health outcomes and reduce the detrimental Impact of COVID – 19 among NCD patient