WHO reminds governments, hospitals to continue to provide essential health services despite Coronavirus crisis

With the pandemic that is Coronavirus, the number of people that are infected keeps rising as the days go by. The stress on the healthcare workers to provide essential services even in the face of uncertainty and risk to their own lives is immense. Shortages of masks and safety suits further put their lives at risk, yet they keep working in these conditions.

The World Health Organisation, in a press note, states that it is during crisis situations like the ebola epidemic in (2014) when a higher number of deaths that can be avoided, take place.

“The best defence against any outbreak is a strong health system,” stressed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “COVID-19 is revealing how fragile many of the world’s health systems and services are, forcing countries to make difficult choices on how to best meet the needs of their people.”

 WHO reminds governments, hospitals to continue to provide essential health services despite Coronavirus crisis

Health workers worldwide continue providing critical assistance to those affected by COVID-19, often through personal sacrifice. Image credit: Twitter/Antonia Guterres

He also said, "Previous outbreaks have demonstrated that when health systems are overwhelmed, deaths due to vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically"

In order to ensure that countries continue to provide their essential health services while also battling with COVID-19, WHO has issued updated guidelines that touch on points like re-assigning staff, prioritizing services and making the most out of limited resources. Health care centres including hospitals both private and public as well as temporary facilities that have been set up to deal with this crisis should follow these guidelines. These facilities need to follow the highest standard of precautions, especially in hygiene practices and providing personal protective gear to their workers.

Essential services include, but are not limited to, routine vaccinations; care during pregnancy and childbirth; care of young infants and older people; management of mental health conditions as well as non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases like HIV, malaria, and TB; critical inpatient therapies; management of emergency health conditions; auxiliary services like basic diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, blood bank services, etc.

"Even though we're in the midst of a crisis, essential health services must continue. Babies are still being born, vaccines must still be delivered, and people still need life-saving treatment for a range of other diseases", said Ghebreyesus during a press conference.

Along with the essential health care guidelines, WHO has also published a manual that goes over all the details one would need to keep in mind while setting up and managing treatment centres whether it is in temporary facilities or in hospitals.

The manual covers setting up a treatment centre, by repurposing hospital wards, an entire hospital or setting up a new treatment facility in a tent, screening & triage at health facilities in hospitals or tents, community facilities to care for mild patients. The manual also talks about structural design, infection prevention, control measures and ventilation systems. 

Updated Date: Mar 31, 2020 15:29:05 IST



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