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Covid disrupts health services in over 90 pct of countries: WHO

By Reuters   February 7, 2022 | 10:25 pm PT
Covid disrupts health services in over 90 pct of countries: WHO
A doctor with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) attends to Marco Vargas, a patient who has the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), at a hospital where the organization is helping address mental health challenges faced by patients with the disease, in Caracas, Venezuela February 1, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Leonardo Fernadez Viloria
Disruptions in basic health services such as vaccination programs and treatment of diseases like AIDS were reported in 92 percent of 129 countries, a World Health Organization survey on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic showed on Monday.

The survey, conducted in November-December 2021, showed services were "severely impacted" with "little or no improvement" from the previous survey in early 2021, the WHO said in a statement sent to journalists.

"The results of this survey highlight the importance of urgent action to address major health system challenges, recover services and mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic," the WHO said.

Emergency care, which includes ambulance and ER services, actually worsened with 36 percent of countries reporting disruptions versus 29 percent in early 2021 and 21 percent in the first survey in 2020.

Elective operations such as hip and knee replacements were disrupted in 59 percent of the countries and gaps to rehabilitative and palliative care were reported in about half of them.

The survey's timing coincided with surging Covid-19 cases in many countries in late 2021 due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, piling additional strain on hospitals.

The WHO statement attributed the scale of disruptions to "pre-existing health systems issues" as well as decreased demand for care, without elaborating.

 
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