Local March 28, 2022 | 3:51 pm

Urgent need to address neglected diseases in the pandemic

Marcos Espinal, director of Communicable Diseases.

Santo Domingo, DR

Reproductive and maternal and child health, vaccination, mental health, and neurological disorders, as well as infectious, communicable, and non-communicable diseases, are the health conditions that were most neglected due to Covid-19 in the countries, among them the Dominican Republic.

Those, according to Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, are the consequences and negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare services.

He said that the pandemic forced nations to turn their attention to the virus, neglecting other health problems, which, in his opinion, must be taken up again and faced to recover the progress that had been achieved. Espinal recalled the results of the WHO survey on the impact of Covid-19, which showed that, in upper-middle-income countries, such as the Dominican Republic, interruptions in reproductive and maternal and child health services were reported in 36% of them, and in those of immunizations in 56%.

Within infectious diseases, the interruption was in 44% of them; in non-communicable diseases in 45%; mental health and neurological disorders in 59% of them and neglected infectious diseases in 44%.

Eliminate malaria
He highlighted that the Dominican Republic is about to eliminate malaria, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis so that, with an extra effort for a couple of years, the country can be free of these three diseases that have caused great harm to people, which, he understands, would be an excellent legacy for the current authorities.

In addition, he added, the country still has a high burden of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, dengue, diarrheal and respiratory diseases in children, and a dual epidemiological profile: with communicable and non-communicable diseases to attend to, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers. “Many of these priority programs have suffered,” said the Dominican physician, pointing out that health’s social and environmental determinants should never be forgotten.

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