While societies understandably focus on addressing the novel coronavirus outbreak, a recent World Bank survey shows that treatments for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, have been severely disrupted worldwide. At the same time, people with pre-existing noncommunicable diseases appear to be more at-risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms and death.
In response to this, health systems in many countries have sought to keep at-risk populations away from contagion sites, like hospitals treating Covid-19 patients. The consequences of these practices have raised a range of concerns, however. With health conditions left undiagnosed and untreated, some experts worry that more fragile health systems in Latin America and the Caribbean could face even greater costs in the long run.
As a result, new methods and systems need to be developed in order for the region to care for people with NCDs in the context of Covid-19. Some promising signs have been emerging, including innovations in services such as telehealth, telemedicine, home delivery of services and prescriptions, as well as the strengthening of community and primary care models.
The situation raises important questions:
- How can health systems better manage the priorities and trade-offs of treating both Covid-19 and non-communicable diseases?
- How has the pandemic changed the ways health care has been targeted toward noncommunicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how can hospitals innovate in treating such illnesses amid the pandemic?
- What shortcomings in the region’s health services for noncommunicable diseases has the health crisis laid bare?
- How can the region strengthen health services and fund such efforts given the current economic downturn?
- Which innovations and methods emerging today would most improve health systems once the pandemic recedes, and how can the region’s health systems better prepare for future unknown challenges?
On November 4, the Dialogue will convene a panel of experts, including Harvard University’s Rifat Atun, Roche’s Latin America Head, Rolf Hoegner, and former Costa Rica health minister María del Rocío Sáenz Madrigal to discuss these questions and others.
Watch the event here:
Professor of Global Health Systems, Harvard University (@RifatAtun)
Executive Vice President & Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development, CEO CGD Europe (@glassmanamanda)
Latin America Head, Roche Pharmaceutical
Former Health Minister, Costa Rica
President, Inter-American Dialogue (@MichaelShifter)