Equity and Protection

Period. 15 - 21 September 2020

A paper in Lancet highlights growing concerns over COVID-19 and underlying comorbidities. Major disruptions in essential non-communicable disease care have been reported by 75% of countries, as public health campaigns and NCD surveillance efforts are also impacted. This has raised alarms, particularly as chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are both drivers of and exacerbated by COVID-19. One recent study in JAMA Cardiology, for example, shows how individuals recovering from the virus develop myocarditis, while 78% of participants had evidence of prior heart inflammation. The NCD Alliance suggests that the concern between COVID-19 and NCDs could be country-specific. Pointing to investments in chronic disease prevention and treatment measures by countries like Jamaica, Jordan and South Africa, the control of NCDs should in this way also be part of pandemic preparedness.

The WHO Director for the Americas last month also warned that COVID-19 is undermining efforts to eliminate and control other infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Hepatitis. Upwards of 80% of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reported challenges, as manageable cases risk becoming active infections. Decline in the number of people being tested is also obscuring the true picture of what is happening with the diseases, as health systems are urged to leverage telemedicine and provide care outside of hospital settings, such as in community outreach programs or home visits. Spikes in cases in Peru have meanwhile led to escalating unrest over demands for economic aid.

This development is part of the digest;