Undoubtedly, the pandemic has brought upon many individuals and institutions great losses in terms of finances, time and resources across various sectors besides the emotional trauma that has cut across all people.
When the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic hit nations, there was a shift from unbelief of its existence to panic. At household level, in panic and wanting to buffer from potential long seasons of lockdowns and catastrophic impact of availability of resources, many families went on over-purchase of food stuffs, toiletries and whatever they considered critical.
By mid-late 2020, when names of drugs being used for intervention started getting into the public domain, individuals joined the aforementioned trends and there was mass purchase of drugs either to treat symptoms or for preventive measures. Drugs like HCQ, Ivermectin and Azithromycin suddenly became a must have commodity amongst many besides food supplements including Zinc, Vitamins C and D. Inevitably, with increased demand came increase in prices and a shortage – whether induced or real. Whereas this translated to better income for the sellers, it adversely affected individuals who needed these drugs on regular basis due to pre-existing conditions because they either lacked the drugs from their suppliers or where it was available, the prices were prohibitive. For individuals who contracted the corona virus and needed the medication, the situation was the same. Many service providers and governments, overwhelmed by the influx of COVID-19 cases resulted to divert resources to the COVID-19 response and inevitably compromised on some other essential, some life-saving non-COVID-19 services. Unfortunately, the diversion did not work well in many cases of individual comorbidities who are believed to be at the highest risk of severe symptoms and fatality were they to be infected by the corona virus.
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruptions in the delivery of routine health services as is evidenced above. It brought to light unfortune cases of business in the healthcare where for some it did not matter that there were life threatening situations where making profits at the expense of saving lives should have never have been considered.
According to Jayesh Saini, protocols should be in place from government level to ensure that in case of such wide spread pandemics or outbreaks, in line with ethics and equity principles, normal services in the normal way are accessible to those who are not infected by the disease because no life is more important or less important than the other and the overall goal is to maximize of saving lives. Jayesh points out that there was still very good coordination amongst various facilities as each reached out to the other whenever they were short of some essential item, but believes that this tendency of cooperation should be enhanced further for better health outcomes. Mr Saini believes that delivery of essential health services should at all times be protected even as mitigation factors are sort to deal with COVID-19 and any other such pandemics were they to happen. Jayesh says it would be unfortunate to compromise these services are they are the basis for primary healthcare which is the foundation for success of the Universal Health Coverage. He noted that essential services are country specific and to some extent region specific as this is dictated by the disease profiles in the specified area.