Dr Prajjwal Pyakurel
COVID-19 has devasted the global health system and left millions of people wandering from the basic health care needs. A scientific study recently published in the journal Lancet Global Health has shown that one in five people are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 should they become infected because of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). NCDs are important for the global health as they are the leading cause of death worldwide. It kills 41 million people each year. Among the NCDs cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) accounts for most NCDs deaths follows by cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. A recent survey done by World Health Organization has shown that 75% of the NCDs services are in halt worldwide because of COVID-19.
In Nepal NCDs are estimated to cause 66% of all death in 2016. Four major group of NCDs – CVDs (30%), cancers (9%), chronic respiratory disease (4%) and diabetes mellitus (4%) are responsible for majority of NCDs related deaths. Lockdown imposed in different parts of the country has severely halted the NCD services and has debarred people of getting NCDs care. Additionally, different research work undergoing for the prevention of NCDs in the country has been halted preventing adoption of new strategies for NCD care. Its high time that Government of Nepal thinks from the health perspective of NCDs service user and come out with concrete solutions to address this deadly disease. Otherwise, this may excoriate societal and economic inequalities during time of COVID-19 and leads to a greater number of COVID-19 related death among people suffering from NCDs.
So, what could be the possible solutions during lockdown for resuming NCD services . The best approach at the moment is to start telehealth services in all the provinces of the country under the leadership of Ministry of Health and Population, Government of Nepal. Through telehealth services long distance patient and clinical contact, care, advice reminders, education, intervention, monitoring and remote admission could be easily made for patient with NCDs. The health manpower in government and private institution in different parts of the country could be effectively utilized for this purpose. This is the time of country crisis and all healthworkers throughout the country should standby with the government to bring out the desired result for the interest of people and society and especially for NCDs patients.
(Dr Pyakurel is Assistant Professor at B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan)