The devastation of coronavirus on other health challenges is beginning to sink. The health sector has been stretched to the limit. A new report by the Global Fund indicates that the international responses to combat Covid-19 have stalled previous initiatives that tackled common diseases such as HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.
Financial, technical and human resources as well as research initiatives that erstwhile targeted the other diseases have been shifted to the fight against coronavirus. All health campaigns prioritise the pandemic.
Notably, governments have introduced protocols such social distancing, use of face masks and cleaning hands to combat the spread of the virus. For a period, governments closed all public institutions and offices and forced employees to work from home.
Long-distance public service transport vehicles were grounded and so were flights. The protocols were well-intentioned and so far, they have helped to minimise casualties. However, they have spawned other challenges.
At present, the world is beginning to record rising cases of those diseases that had hitherto been put under control. For instance, the report shows that testing for HIV/Aids and prevention services have slackened as governments prioritised Covid-19. Precisely, the number of people accessing HIV/Aids treatment declined by 11 per cent in 2020 and those going for tests went down by 22 per cent. This is worrying.
The consequence is that countries are being exposed to high levels of risks due to the resurgence of those diseases. Resources are diverted to curbing coronavirus, leaving little else for other ailments. Even medical facilities have been converted and reserved to handle Covid-19 cases.
Governments and the international community have to revive initiatives aimed at combating the perennial diseases. Health systems have to be expanded to respond to the multiple afflictions tormenting the citizens. Campaigns to raise cash and improve facilities to handle various diseases must be intensified. Gains made in combating common diseases should not be wiped out even as the world fights coronavirus.