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Table of Contents
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 168-170

Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Strengthening health sector response amidst the background of global economic crisis


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission04-Apr-2020
Date of Decision20-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance10-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication24-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/IJCFM.IJCFM_26_20

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  Abstract 

The Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic should be looked upon as much more than a public health emergency, as it has significantly impacted the global economy. Owing to the fact that the disease spreads by close contact, many of the nations imposed social restrictions, with an aim to reduce the spread of the disease. However, the bitter truth is that such measures enormously affects the income opportunities of individuals & families, and the financial status of the community and the nation at large. During these difficult times, each nation should start their response by funding all the components of the emergency response plan, strengthen the foundations of the health system and remove the possibility of financial constraints, which can prevent people to access health care. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us to come to a scenario where we have to not only save lives, but even ensure that livelihoods of people are sustained. Thus, the need of the hour is to strengthen the health sector through financial assistance, and simultaneously plan for the release of the lockdown to try to bring our economy back on track.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, economy, health sector, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Strengthening health sector response amidst the background of global economic crisis. Indian J Community Fam Med 2020;6:168-70

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Strengthening health sector response amidst the background of global economic crisis. Indian J Community Fam Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 19];6:168-70. Available from: https://www.ijcfm.org/text.asp?2020/6/2/168/304793


  Introduction Top


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic should be looked upon as much more than a public health emergency, as it has significantly impacted the global economy and even produced a major impact on the social determinants of health.[1] This has been primarily due to the various measures launched by the national health authorities toward the promotion of social distancing, which in turn has been done due to the sudden rise in the number of cases. Globally, a cumulative total of 2,074,529 cases and 139,378 deaths have been reported, which amounts to a case fatality rate of 6.7%.[2] However, more than these numbers, it is the pace with which the number of cases increases; for instance, in a single day, 82,967 cases were reported, and this huge number is very much enough to outstretch the health system of any nation beyond doubts, including the most developed nations and those with the best health system in place.[1],[2]


  Imposition of Restrictions and Their Financial Consequences Top


Owing to the fact that the disease spreads by close contacts and through droplets, many of the nations have imposed social restrictions, including complete or partial lockdown for varied periods of time. Even though these measures were done to safeguard the citizens and to reduce the spread of the disease, the bitter truth is that such measures enormously affect the income opportunities of individuals and families, and the financial status of the community and the nation at large.[1] Amidst this ongoing pandemic, it is important to note that the impact of the disease has gone beyond the health sector alone, and the public health crisis has affected various other sectors such as education, commerce, travel, and trade. In fact, the financial crisis which has emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic is predominantly because all these sectors are facing the brunt of the infection.[3]

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that there will be a 5% likelihood that the global growth will fall below −7.4%.[4] The resulting economic crisis has started to show its impact at the local, national, and international levels.[5] From an individual's perspective, the prospects of earning have reduced, predominantly because of the closure of various establishments (such as restaurants, malls, and recreation centers), and this has affected the livelihood of people, especially of the daily wagers and those in lower socioeconomic status group. Commerce or educational industries are finding it hard to pay salary to their employees amidst the various restrictions and recession and thus employees have been laid off from their jobs. At the national and international levels, it is the travel trade sector which has been hit most, as people have started to stay inside home and thus all the national economies have been affected.[5]


  Health Sector Response Amidst the Financial Crisis Top


Despite these financial developments, it becomes our utmost responsibility to not only continue but also intensify the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.[4] The best way to deal with this financial crisis and yet continue the battle against COVID-19 will be through ending all forms of restrictions, and simultaneously adopting aggressive and holistic strategies (viz., active case detection, testing, isolation, treatment, contact tracing, quarantine, and infection prevention).[1],[5],[6],[7] However, all the governments are really concerned about relaxing the restrictions, as it might result in the upsurge of the cases (once people come out in huge numbers), which eventually puts a huge load on the health system, rising number of deaths, and possibly a prolonged and more disastrous impact on the economy.[1]

Acknowledging all these scenarios, the most feasible option at present is to finance the health sector response by ensuring strengthening of all the essential domains of the response, and simultaneously plan for social and economic recovery of the nation by ensuring lifting of the imposed restrictions in a phase-wise manner.[1],[3],[5] Under these circumstances, the role of various international welfare agencies comes into place, where they can extend the debt relief to the nations and thus minimize the possibility of the downfall of the economy of the affected nations.[3]


  Practical Interventions Top


During these difficult times, each nation should start their response by funding all the components of the emergency response plan as stated above, including the establishment of a risk communication mechanism.[5] The government has appealed to all the stakeholders to voluntarily donate money based on their responsibilities to help the nation to cope up with the pandemic. At the same time, multiple economic provisions have been made to help the vulnerable population groups, the general population, and also to strengthen the health sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergency responses include creation of temporary facilities for isolation and quarantine facilities for COVID-19 cases in China, importing personal protective equipment by India and Italy, importing hydroxychloroquine by the USA for chemoprophylaxis, and funding research activities to expedite the development of a drug or a vaccine in the Solidarity Trial by the World Health Organization.

All these measures are accompanied with interventions to strengthen the foundations of the health system as a whole, which, in other words, amount to giving salaries to health professionals on time and supplying them with all the essential equipment and personal protective tools to carry out their job without risking their safety.[1] Another important domain will be that the government should ensure that no financial constraints prevent people from accessing health-care services. This is an extremely important area, as if the members of the community don't avail services because they cannot afford, eventually the disease will manifest in huge numbers as the disease transmission will continue to occur in the absence of timely diagnosis, prompt isolation, and provision of appropriate treatment.[1],[5]

In fact, many of the nations have made the laboratory test free and some of them have even waived off user fees, and these are all the need of the hour to contain the crisis. This becomes a really important step, as none of the people should be reluctant to avail the health care, especially because of financial constraints, as that might lead to the emergence of a new chain of transmission of infection. At the same time, national leaders should explore the option of cash transfer to the vulnerable population groups, which can support their livelihood during the times of lockdown.[1] Further, many nations and regions have come forward to appeal for financial assistance by donors to support or intensify the ongoing public health response activities.[1],[3] For instance, the Pan American Health Organization has appealed for $94.8 million to intensify the COVID-19 response-related activities in nations within the Latin America and the Caribbean.[3] This is the time that all of us should support the ongoing efforts and donate from our side as much as possible to save the lives and reduce the risk of disease transmission.


  Conclusion Top


The COVID-19 pandemic has made us to come to a scenario where we have to not only save lives but also ensure that the livelihoods of people are sustained. Thus, the need of the hour is to strengthen the health sector through financial assistance, and simultaneously plan for the release of the lockdown to try to bring our economy back on track.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. WHO Director-General's Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on COVID-19-April 3, 2020; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the- media-briefing-on-covid-19 --3-april-2020. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 04].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 88; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200417-sitrep-88-covid-191b6cccd94f8b4f2193 77bff55719a6ed.pdf?sfvrsn=ebe78315_6. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 18].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Pan American Health Organization. PAHO Appeals for $95 million to Help Latin America and the Caribbean Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic; 2020. Available from: https://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15767:paho -appeals-for-95-million-to-help- latin-america-and-the-caribbean-cope-with-the-covid-19- pandemic&catid=740&lang=en&Itemid=1926. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 04].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Adrian T, Natalucci F. COVID-19 Crisis Poses Threat to Financial Stability; 2020. Available from: https://blogs.imf.org/2020/04/14/covid-19-crisis-poses-threat-to-financial-stability/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 15].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
The Economic Times. Covid-19: How the Deadly Virus Hints at a Looming Financial Crisis; 2020. Available from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/finance/covid-19-crisis-how-the-deadly-virus-hints-at-a-looming- financial-crisis/articleshow/74752200.cms?from=mdr. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 18].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-20.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Minimizing the risk of international spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak by targeting travelers. J Acute Dis 2020;9:47-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
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Abstract
Introduction
Imposition of Re...
Health Sector Re...
Practical Interv...
Conclusion
References

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