COVID-19 & Chronic Diseases
The outbreak of the COVID-19 has exposed health system fragilities highlighting the need for resilience as an equally important element to health system performance, accessibility, quality, and efficiency. The European Commission’s State of EU Health reports over 7 million people have been infected by end of October 2020. A total of 220 000 overall deaths have been reported across the EU as a direct impact of the pandemic with 90% of reported COVID-19 deaths among those over 60 years of age (Health at a Glance: Europe 2020, State of Health in the EU Cycle).
People with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions are at high risk of infection especially, but not only, during the COVID 19 crisis. The indirect impact of pandemic has disproportionately hit vulnerable populations the hardest with disruptions to essential care, in terms of delayed diagnoses, foregone care and impeded continuity of care, contributing to worse health outcomes (OECD 2020, Policy Brief on responses in cities and regions on the COVID-19 crisis).
A sharp decline in referrals from primary care with substantial delays in diagnosis and a decrease in patients seeking help following the first wave of COVID-19 hospitalisations was evident. The European Commission is coordinating a joint European response to the coronavirus outbreak taking drastic measures to strengthen the healthcare sector and to absorb the socio-economic consequences in the European Union while demonstrating solidarity in treating patients.