COVID-19 may erase decades of health care advances: WHO

Two people wear masks at a community workstation in Paris. August 31, 2020. REUTERS / Christian Hartmann

GENEVA, Aug 31 (Reuters) – More than 90% of countries have seen ordinary health services disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving decades-long healthcare advances vulnerable to disappearing in a short time. period, showed a survey by the World Health Organization.

The Geneva-based body has frequently warned of other vital programs that have been affected by the pandemic and sent mitigation advice to countries, but the survey yielded the first WHO data so far on the scale of the disruptions. .

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on essential health services is a source of great concern,” the agency said in a report on the study released Monday. “The main advances in health achieved in the last two decades can disappear in a short period of time (…)”.

The survey includes responses from May to July from more than 100 countries. Routine immunizations (70%), family planning (68%), and cancer diagnosis and treatment (55%) are among the most affected services, while emergency services were disrupted in nearly a quarter of the countries that responded.

The eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, was hit the hardest, followed by regions in Africa and Southeast Asia, it showed. America was not part of the survey.

Since COVID-19 cases were first identified in December last year, the virus is believed to have killed nearly 850,000 people, according to the latest Reuters tally.

Reporting by Emma Farge. Edited in Spanish by Gabriela Donoso

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