It has been exactly 8 months since the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak began in China and almost 6 months since the world has been in a lockdown.

25 million people have been infected and while the impact of this disease can’t be deciphered soon, a survey released by World Health Organisation reveals new details on how health care services around the globe were majorly disrupted all thanks to the deadly virus.

WHO released an interim report titled, ‘Pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic’, with the aim to understand the extent of the damage and how countries can strategise to maintain healthcare services during the pandemic.

The survey was conducted with health ministry officials from 5 regions of World Health Organisation during the months of May, June and July 2020. The survey was sent to 159 countries and had questions related to 25 essential services.

105 countries responded to the survey and 66% of these countries revealed that ‘core health care services’, as identified by them, were maintained.

Disruption – based on country income group

While 90% countries noted a disruption, the impact was however higher in lower-income countries.

WHO: All services impacted

Reason for Service Disruption

WHO survey reveals that all sectors including essential services for communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases, mental health, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, and nutrition services were disrupted. However all emergency services were only affected in 16 countries.

The Impact :

COVID 19 has disrupted Healthcare services across nations below are the areas of impact with percentage disruption

Immunization services – 70%

NCD Management- 69%

Family Planning and Contraception- 68%

Facility based services- 61%

Mental health care- 61%

Antenatal care – 56%

Cancer Management -55%

Service Delivery Platforms

However, its interesting to note that this disruption was from ‘demand and supply side’.

76% countries noted a fall in outpatient department. Elective procedures were vastly impacted as well. With staff redeployed to tackle COVID, hospitals faced a massive crunch in resources for other functions.

How countries responded to COVID?

With COVID presenting new challenges, health care providers across the world had to implement new ideas to fight COVID. Implementation of triage of health services, telemedicine and changes were made in dispensing medicines.

Meanwhile Dental care and rehabilitation, was suspended by several countries due to the high risk involved.

Health care is a robust, dynamic sector which has always been evolving, however the pandemic has exposed the inherent flaws in this sector.

With the WHO survey throwing more light, global leaders need to sit down together and formulate a strategy to get back stronger from this crisis and make healthcare services more affordable and efficient again.

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