Don’t neglect other health services amid Covid-19

Asia-Pacific countries should not neglect other health services amid the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organisation warned Tuesday, noting that the region could face a new crisis if other diseases went unmanaged.

The Response to the Covid-19 epidemic should not stop such health services as immunisation and treatment of acute and chronic diseases that affect millions of people in the region, said Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.

‘If we allow Covid-19 to disrupt immunisation programmes, our region could face a new crisis at a time when health systems are already strained,’ he said in briefing from the WHO Western Pacific regional office in Manila.

Kasai noted that when vaccination rates go down, infectious diseases that have long been under control or even elimated surge or come back, citing new cases of polio and outbreaks of measles in different countries in the region last year.

Millions of people also need care and treatment for acute and chronic conditions such as tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.

‘We cannot let the Covid-19 response put their lives at risk by compromising these services,’ Kasai said.

Kasai also urged Asia-Pacific governments not to be complacent in efforts to contain the coronavirus and think of long-term strategies that balance the need to protect public’s health and bring back the economy and social life.

‘This is not the time to relax,’ he said. ‘Instead, we need to ready ourselves for a new way of living in the foreseeable future.’  ‘As long as the new coronavirus is circulating, no country is safe from potentially overwhelming outbreaks,’ Kasai added.