While almost all government hospitals and select private hospitals are fighting a battle against COVID-19, the battle against other illnesses has become negligible even as other illnesses continue to exist and kill more people than COVID-19, stated Dr K Hari Prasad, President, Apollo Group Hospitals. He added there is a need for people to stop postponing their health issues as the fear of COVID-19 looms. He addressed the issues of healthcare which COVID-19 has triggered, at a webinar ‘India After COVID-19’ organised by The Free Press Journal- IIM Indore, supported by Big FM and Moneylife.
Speaking at the session, Prasad said, “Epidemics have been there for centuries — Cholera, Plague, Spanish Flu, HIV AIDS, Swine flu, Ebola and others. Each of these epidemics have left behind a huge impact in the world on multiple fronts — geopolitical, geo-social, socio-economic fronts etc.”
One such impact is the fear of getting infected by going to a hospital or visiting a doctor. “Due to COVID-19, people are postponing their treatment -- and that has impacted the health of the people. It has to be noted that since the COVID-19 outbreak, more people have died or even suffered due to illnesses other than COVID-19.”At the peak of COVID-19 in China, Prasad cited, it was found that COVID-19 was the 40th biggest cause of death in that country. “Even at the epicentre of the epidemic, the numbers were not high compared to those of other illnesses.”
Avoiding a visit to a doctor is taking a toll on the health of people. The fear of getting infected with COVID-19 is not just among the people, but among the healthcare professionals as well. “The healthcare services provided by individual doctors and small nursing homes are not operational and they are the most badly hit. The foundation of the whole healthcare system in our country has collapsed.''
It is estimated that around 80-90 per cent of the healthcare needs in the country is addressed by these individual doctors and private nursing homes; large hospitals like Apollo Hospitals only provide less than 5 per cent of the total healthcare needs. He talked of the urgent need to revive the confidence of these healthcare practitioners. Prasad added, “We often fail to recognise that it is this set of people who are providing actual health care. This COVID-19 obsession has killed the healthcare foundation. This has changed the social fabric of the society.”He revealed that the industry is trying to bring back confidence in the single doctor clinic and small nursing homes. He felt that it is essential to address the healthcare needs of society or there will be grave consequences on the general health of the population.