A brief discussion on the Impact of COVID-19 Healthcare and Infrastructure Sector
Published on : Mar-2022 Report Code : 4 Report Format : PDF
Infectious disease prevalence has increased globally, as human activities lead to the emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases worldwide. Outbreaks have frequently occurred but not every outbreak attains a global pandemic level as the Novel Coronavirus has. Globalization, with increased global migration and travel, urbanization, and greater degradation of the natural ecosystem, has led to a rapid spread of pandemics, with COVID-19 becoming the most deadly of all to date experienced in our lives
This pandemic has led to large-scale catastrophe with a high burden of morbidity and mortality in all the world economies and causing substantial economic, social, and political disturbance. The COVID-19 pandemic strains and threatens health systems and infrastructure across the globe, even of the most developed countries. COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll on healthcare professionals, particularly in developed countries such as Italy, Spain, France, and the USA. Healthcare experts warn that developed countries may be on a track where, in the absence of adequate healthcare infrastructure, the result could be even worse. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has posed a significant challenge for the Australian healthcare sector. Even with a strong healthcare system and a compelling social safety net. The rapidly rising demand for health care facilities and health care staff is threatening to leave some health systems overstressed and incapable of functioning efficiently. With more than 1.6 million positive cases globally, the number of people diagnosed with this virus has surpassed any other pandemic in recent history. Given a rising number of regularly active cases, it's still hard to determine how long the pandemic might last.
Many of the world's best minds in pharmaceuticals and biotech are trying to find a vaccine, an antidote, or some sort of treatment to fight this virus, something like this has never occurred or been seen in modern history. The Healthcare sector has seen immense interest from both private and public investors and governments alike, everyone seems to be in a quest to find the vaccine and to be the first nation or corporation to achieve what now seems an impossible mission.
According to the team of experts and industry veterans in Fatpos Global hospitals and health-care organizations around the world are making extraordinary attempts to address COVID-19’s challenges. They repurpose existing space and add new beds and ICU capacity, often in advance of demand; buy additional equipment and supplies to accommodate the patient surge, and reorganize their workforce to treat more patients and to limit infection to serve their communities and cope with the unprecedented clinical strain. COVID-19 has strained healthcare capacity in areas that are perceived to be virus hotspots, for instance, hospitals that surpass capacity in severely affected areas such as China's Wuhan and Italy's Lombardy Region.
New York is also dealing with the rapid spread of the virus and rising rates of hospitalization in the US. New York’s healthcare infrastructure has remained robust, however, as local, state, and federal assistance has improved capacity by transforming convention centers, hotels, and even a Central Park site into makeshift hospitals. States in other parts of the country, especially Washington and California, also permitted bankrupt hospitals to reopen for capacity building. Overall, the various steps taken in New York, Washington, and California to improve healthcare efficiency serve as models for future extreme outbreaks in other areas of the country and demonstrate the effectiveness of rapid mobilization. In the United States, the CDC recommends that
"healthcare systems prioritize emergency visits and postpone elective treatment to counteract COVID-19 spread in healthcare settings."
The relatively low infection rate in the Canadian healthcare system does not pose a high risk of the system potentially being overloaded. Still, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving. To this end, if infection rates increase, the network in Canada eventually has a high probability of experiencing substantial strain. Also recommended by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is that people seeking health assistance should take the online route or call their doctor or the NHS helpline. People should only come in-person to a doctor's office, the NHS says, if the doctor has expressly asked them to do so because of grave concerns. But the cancellation during the pandemic of a large number of scheduled elective procedures has left a lot of people in the UK. They fear for their long-term health and feel like "collateral damage."
African health systems fail to meet existing needs — let alone handle the surge in demand caused by a pandemic. For example, the latest available data shows that each of Ethiopia and Niger has just 0.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people, and Tunisia has 2.3, compared to an average of 5.6 beds per 1,000 people in Europe. Moreover, a large number of people in Africa have impaired immune systems, mainly due to the high incidence of HIV infection and co-infection with HIV-tuberculosis, and many children are suffering from malnutrition. These factors may make certain children and adults more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The entire program based on the prevention, detection, treatment and containment of COVID-19 infection is likely to ignore opportunities for timely diagnosis and treatment of other diseases, as urgent prioritize over significant. Patients with chronic conditions are facing complications with physicians and nurses working non-stop to treat COVID-19 patients in elective surgeries. Liquidity shortages and administrative pressure are also causing delays in repayments. These are short-term repercussions which are already witnessed by the healthcare sector. Chronic disease patients who are wary of going out, or who face movement difficulties due to lockdown restriction may avoid treatment, resulting in long-term complications. These can ultimately increase the likelihood of disease complications and worsening, thus raising the average burden of the country's diseases to some extent. BMC recently moved some cancer and other disease patients to makeshift arrangements under a Mumbai flyover to serve a growing number of COVID-19 patients in the area.
Also, the unavailability of several government set-ups allocated for COVID-19 has limited the accessibility of emergency treatment of acute conditions for the less affluent, who can only fall back on public facilities for healthcare needs. Postponing Elective surgeries and procedures may adversely affect the quality of life, as patients wait for the right time to receive the care they need. And while healthcare organizations like the CDC continue to emphasize the importance of immunizing children against other diseases, they also note that there has been a substantial decrease in the number of children getting their vaccinations late. It could result, in part, from lockdown initiatives and stay-at-home programs, but it is also likely due to postponements and delays in appointments for primary care. Sacha Deshmukh, Executive Director of UNICEF UK, said that "owing to the global pandemic, up to 117 million children may miss out on vaccines."
"Millions of children missing scheduled vaccinations are an alarm bell and trigger more life-threatening outbreaks of diseases such as measles." – Sacha Deshmukh, UK's UNICEF
"The world has not done enough to implement on the health assurance for all," cautioned the WHO Director-General.
“Amid a massive shortage of protective gears for medical professionals and staff, Spain signed a contract with China worth 432 million euros to purchase 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves” -Salvador Illa, Spanish Health Minister - 25 March 2020
Major PPE players ramp up local production to try to meet the increasing demand. While manufacturers in Europe and North America are struggling to step up their production capacities, they recognize that this is not an easy task. The key explanation is that their production is outsourced between 65 and 75 percent form Asian countries. In the initial stage, the outbreak of COVID-19 in China created a huge demand for PPE in the local market leading to the disruption of the supply chain for other nations. The global demand has skyrocketed with the spread of COVID-19 and the supply chain has not been able to fulfill that demand. “The chronic, global shortage of personal protective equipment is one of the most urgent threats to our collective ability to save lives, WHO has shipped almost 2 million protective gear items to 74 countries, and is preparing to send a similar amount to 60 more countries, but much more is needed. This problem can only be solved with international cooperation and international solidarity when health workers are at risk, we're all at risk.” -WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusthe, 27th March 2020
Positive cases are also generating continuously rising demand for medical ventilators around the globe. It was found that approximately 5 percent of the total positive COVID-19 cases are extreme, requiring ventilators for breathing regularity. This leads to an increasingly global market for medical ventilators. Many companies have expanded their manufacturing capacity to meet the rising demand. The medical devices industry in India has also taken on a blow. The country is importing consumables, disposables, and capital equipment from China including orthopedic implants, pads, syringes, bandages, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging tools. Because of the current crisis in China, it is difficult for medical device manufacturers across India to procure essential raw materials and electronic components from the Chinese factories.
Although the private healthcare sector is adequately prepared for any eventuality, it is also a fact that, unlike other industries, the sector faces a dual burden: (A) Investing additional staff, equipment and facilities, consumables, and other resources to ensure 100% hospital safety preparedness and potential patient treatment, if necessary. (B) A sharp decline in OP footfalls, elective procedures, and foreign patients. The industry has witnessed business loss and this trend is expected to continue for the near future (at least 4-6 months), and the fact that the cost of the sector is primarily fixed (around 75 percent) is expected to result in losses and massive effect on cash flows. This industry is likely to be looked at favorably if the government implements any fiscal stimulus. It is also likely that the industry will benefit from increased awareness about healthcare and more government emphasis.
Small independent systems are facing a continuing and more acute threat, especially those in rural areas. These structures are not equipped to improve their financial strength and gain from the help of a well-capitalized portfolio of assets. The COVID-19 crisis will encourage a fundamental transformation of the health-care system. The crisis is expected to intensify recent development in several other ways that have not yet experienced a step-change in momentum. Based on the analyses by the experts and industry veterans at Fatpos Global the digital health and telehealth, which have struggled for years to find their feet, can, at last, become more widespread. Digital health and telehealth have taken a front seat amid the latest outbreak. COVID-19 re-emphasized the significance of remote diagnosis, treatment, and consultation. Over the past few years, regulatory and behavioral barriers have slowed Telehealth production. With many healthcare providers currently consulting on video conferencing and telephone calls, however, this segment's growth will increase many folds in the coming years. The social distancing measures have mandated remote consultation of patients with mild symptoms.
It greatly lessens the workload on hospitals already overburdened by counts of COVID-19 patients. The pandemic led to severely constrained resources. This will result in the development of competitive pricing and value-based pricing models. In the aftermath of the crisis, individual hospitals and health systems will have opportunities to take action that will enhance the overall health care ecosystem's resilience. The finest systems are the ones that are better equipped to deploy sophisticated technologies and respond dynamically to resource requirements, due to more mature assets and greater financial stability. Although the end-state particularities are still uncertain, a better, more robust framework can be envisaged. Health care delivery condenses within this system around the strongest players and the most effective types of care delivery, resulting in a more effective and resilient approach to both steady-state operations and future catastrophes.