Covid-19 and Universal Health Coverage
This year, we are witnessing a particular context due to the covid19 pandemic. The world we know has considerably changed to adapt to this situation, and it is still changing.
One of the major problems that remains is the lack of healthcare structures, but also the lack of materials and sometimes, healthcare workers. This led to overwhelmed hospitals and a lack of access to healthcare services, which is causing a higher mortality than it should be. This is what is happening in most of the third world countries, where the quality of healthcare services tend to be low and the methods archaic. The lack of testing kits is also an important issue which makes epidemiologic surveillance almost impossible.
Poor and disorganized countries are obviously the most affected by the crisis. As an example, Peru that was about to get rid of poverty found itself drowned into it again because of the covid19 crisis. In Africa, many countries that were already facing Ebola or malaria epidemics are now handling two epidemics, which makes the situation worrying.
But the SRAS-Cov2 makes no distinction and even the developed countries are in a difficult situation, not for the same reasons.
While in the first case we had material issues, in this case we would more speak about policies.
In USA, an estimated 130,000 to 210,000 covid19 deaths were avoidable, according to the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. With “a proportional mortality rate twice that of neighboring Canada and more than fifty times that of Japan -a country with a much older population than the U.S-”. If this can be explained with a weak federal coordination and leadership and late policy interventions, it is also because most american people (about 27 million) are uninsured and therefore, cannot afford to go to the hospital.
In France, it is different. Most people have access to healthcare services since the prices are affordable and controlled by the government (Bismarck Model), but during this crisis, hospitals cannot take care of all the covid19 patients, which is why they are proceeding to the sorting of patients : the priority is given to those who most need treatment. This is happening for two reasons : the first because of the high number of covid19 cases, the second because of a lack of beds in the hospitals. As for the lack of beds, it was first due to a ministerial decision that planned to reduce the number of hospitals by 100,000, then came the law on modernisation of health that was voted in 2016 and some measures included the fusion of many hospitals which reduced the number of hospitals and, therefore, beds.
According to the OCDE, there was only a capacity of 3.09 bed/1000 inhabitants in 2018.
This explains that many deaths would be avoidable with appropriate policies and organization.
But most, this shows that the Universal Health Coverage is a solution to help the countries to address effectively and efficiently the Covid19 crisis and get over it.
- Read more on the UHC’s policy brief : Covid19 and Universal Health Coverage.
- Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIrw-Esmbuw