It has been over a year, and India continues to fight an invisible enemy — Covid-19. But it is not just because of the virus, the morbidity and mortality rates are increasing in the country due to non-Covid ailments too, said Dr Roy Patankar, gastroenterologist and director, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur.
“It is the need of the hour that people seek immediate medical care instead of neglecting or delaying the treatment,” he said. Millions of people all over the world have hunkered down at home for over a year owing to the fear of contracting Covid infection. This fear has kept many people away from receiving prompt treatment by visiting a doctor, he said.
Who should not delay treatment?
This lockdown has been harsh on patients with chronic diseases and acute illnesses. Those with cardiovascular diseases, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, cancers, asthma, liver cirrhosis, tuberculosis, chronic renal failure, inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis, hepatitis, chronic kidney disease, epilepsy, gastrointestinal diseases, depression, diabetes, hypertension, needing organ transplantation require timely treatment.
“The burden of infectious diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid, and other diarrhoeal diseases is increasing and requires treatment. Even gynaecological issues and mental health problems like anxiety, depression, stress, and panic attacks have become common during these unprecedented times. There has been a disruption in counseling and psychotherapy,” Dr Patankar said.
Disruption in healthcare services
The pandemic has disrupted the healthcare systems and many serious non-covid cases are going unreported, he warned. “This has increased mortality and morbidity rates. People living in rural areas are also suffering and have been losing their lives owing to serious complications. Not only this, elective surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy have also been disrupted. Many parents fail to take their children for immunisation which increases the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and hepatitis B. Though, the hospitals are handling critical cases of heart attack or cancers, not many patients are willing to come forward to seek care. They only come when the situation goes out of hand,” he said.
Most chronic diseases need regular monitoring and drug dose modifications. While teleconsultations have been made available by hospitals, they can’t replace visits to the physician.
Keep in mind
*If you have any existing co-morbidities like high blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol, then monitor them from time to time. Do not skip your medication.
*If you or your loved ones showcase serious symptoms like shortness of breath, high blood pressure, or sweating, then it could be a heart attack. Just visit the nearest hospital.
*In case of stroke, make sure the person receives treatment in the window period of four hours. Delaying treatment further could lead to death.
*Go for regular screening, check-ups, and follow-ups after every six months as suggested by the doctor.
*Do not delay your chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Opt for counseling and physiotherapy, if you are advised to take them.