Globe, Health, Lifestyle, World

A universal, free and quality healthcare system is urgently needed

The Covid-19 pandemic shows the need for each country to invest in their healthcare systems, as developed nations and powerful economies have been overwhelmed by the rapid and lethal spread of this virus.


Rosmerys Bernal Piña


Access to a universal, free and quality healthcare system is still a pending project on a global level, and in the current context of the pandemic it is becoming an increasingly worrisome issue, since it makes healthcare staff and patients its victims.

With almost 32 million people in 185 countries infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of this illness and close to 1 million deaths, humanity today faces the greatest crisis in health care in recent times.

This is the warning of the World Health Organization (WHO) and specialists who point out that this situation exerts unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems around the world and makes it difficult for workers in the sector.

For example, limited access to personal protective equipment has been reported in several countries, increasing the risks to the safety of these professionals in the face of a highly transmissible and lethal virus.

Around 14% of Covid-19 cases reported to the WHO are of healthcare workers and in some countries recorded numbers are even as high as 35%.

However, these data are limited, according to the WHO, so the figure could be even higher, and it is difficult to know if healthcare workers were infected in their workplaces or in communities.

Violence, stigmatisation and psychological and emotional disorders are other problems they have faced during these months of the pandemic.

In fact, there has been an alarming increase in reports of verbal harassment, discrimination, and physical violence towards healthcare workers as another consequence of Covid-19.  One in four healthcare workers are known to suffer from depression or anxiety, and one in three has suffered from insomnia that started with the pandemic.

Due to all this, on many occasions the work of healthcare professionals becomes stressful, which causes them to be more prone to making mistakes in their practices and putting the safety and well-being of the patient at risk.

But it is not only healthcare workers who suffer in times of Covid. So do patients.

The WHO states that adverse events due to unsafe and poor-quality care are probably one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.

Before the pandemic, each year there were more than 13 million adverse events resulting from unsafe care in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries, resulting in some 2.6 million deaths.

Moreover, in high-income countries, it is estimated that one in 10 patients suffers harm while receiving hospital care, almost 50% of which are preventable.

The most damaging errors occur in diagnosis, prescription and the use of drugs, experts add.

As WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says, “This virus will not be the last global health emergency; but with the right political and financial investments now, we can prevent and mitigate future pandemics and protect our future and that of future generations”.

For now, according to WHO data, scientists from about 190 laboratories and institutions around the world are investigating possible vaccines against this new coronavirus, 35 of which are in the phase of clinical trials on humans.

But – as WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said – trials require tens of thousands of people and at least six months to prove their efficacy and safety, so it will take at least until the end of 2020 or early from 2021 to have reliable results. (PL)


(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: ) Photos: Pixabay

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