Facets of chronic disease during the pandemic: health systems, medical students and caregivers

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Uma Gupta, a 23-year-old intern doctor, at KLE Hospital, Belagavi, India. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

As the pandemic sweeps across the world, affecting millions of people, those living with chronic diseases have been the most adversely affected. Besides them have been the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, family caregivers, and healthcare workers.

Administration and government, health agencies and healthcare providers have been amid fighting the battle against COVID-19, significantly changing the structure of the healthcare delivery system. This set an immense amount of pressure on health systems, creating significant gaps in the availability of services and resources.

To avoid spread, several million people over the world have adapted to virtual healthcare and self-management while managing finances and technology. People suffering from chronic diseases have been victims of accessing remodelled healthcare, compliance with treatment regimens, sedentary lifestyle and increased mental distress. The constant fear of contact has also led to an increase in family care, adding significant responsibilities and creating a detrimental impact on caregivers’ mental and physical health.

A domino effect of all chaos, medical students have taken responsibility- ranging from advocating COVID safety and raising awareness about correct health practices to assisting in COVID management, teleconsultation and managing ‘at risk’ groups. Apart from the rise in the number of students volunteering their knowledge and services, there has also been a dynamic increment in understanding healthcare policy and public health services, a milestone marking the new era of medical education and participation.

While the pandemic may appear as a setback to Universal Health Coverage, it has led to immense growth and improvement in society, as we instinctively work together to combat the pandemic while catering to the existing needs of the masses, rebuilding our healthcare systems. As the SDGs postulated, we try to achieve ‘Good Health and Well Being’ by ‘Partnerships for the goals’.

Through an amalgamation of responsibilities and efforts of international agencies, national governments, healthcare systems, healthcare providers, medical students, and people themselves, we have laid the foundation for building a resilient healthcare system. A system suited to the needs of the people, curated by the forefront of healthcare and administration, executed by the current and the future healthcare providers.

About the author

An artist at heart, Uma Gupta, believes that global health is the art of empathy applied to the science of medicine. A 23-year-old intern doctor, at KLE Hospital, Belagavi, India, she is an aspiring writer and physician. She has been a part of the Medical Students’ Association of India for the past 5 years, trying to be an asset to Indian health and advocating public health.

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