COVID-19 strays resources from noncommunicable diseases — WHO

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COVID-19 has distracted public attention and resources from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including diabetes, cancer and hypertension, says WHO.

  The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a new survey, said the situation is disturbing as NCDs kill no fewer than 40 million people annually. The WHO disclosed that people living with these diseases are more likely to become severely ill or die from the novel coronavirus disease.

Accordingly, the organization stated that the study was conducted in 155 countries in a period of three weeks with the result showing that although the disruption of noncommunicable diseases by COVID-19 was global, developing countries had been most affected.

The report also revealed that the services for NCDs have been partially or completely disrupted in over half of the countries surveyed, while two-thirds said rehabilitation services were affected and that 94 per cent of the countries have partially or fully reassigned health ministry staff working on NCDs to support COVID-19 response. “For instance, it says screening campaigns for breast and cervical cancer were also postponed in more than half of the countries,” the global body said.

The new survey comes barely a month after the United Nations warned that the pandemic was threatening decades of progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), had earlier on May 11 warned against the  disruptions to HIV/AIDS treatment which  could result in hundreds of thousands of HIV-related deaths.

Reacting to the reports, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said it confirmed what the agency had been hearing from countries. “Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “It is vital that countries find innovative ways to ensure that essential services for NCDs continue, even as they fight COVID-19,” Ghebreyesus said.

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