We are doing something but I am not so sure or very convinced yet. Our disaster management and response to medical situations globally as well as how wanting our primary health care systems are leaving alot to be desired.
The truth is this is not the first time such an outbreak has emerged nor the first time corona came out to play or the name been heard in the last couple of months and neither will it be the last time such a thing is to happen. At one point there was ebola, another time there was sars and mars, swine flu, name them HIV a type of virus too.
What then is our response? One-off installments of medical management solutions of such issues will always be terribly expensive and most economies even the most powerful have no capacity to manage let alone third world countries. Why not set up systems and research centers all over that continuously, deliberately and intentionally address these things viruses, bacterias et cetera?
For instance, yesterday I was thinking so now we have a 100 or so bed capacity somewhere to deal with the matter. I can only pray we do not have to use even a quarter of them. A few weeks or hopefully days from now the situation will be contained and dealt with. But we have spent a lot of money specifically for this which is a one-time passing virus or might just mutate into other things. It is wonderful that we are creating such spaces but then what about tomorrow? How about just invest in equipping our hospitals with units that are so versatile, very well equipped for anything? We sure do have some. Are they enough? Can they deal with serious cases at moment’s notice?
How about building similar facilities and general diagnostic apparatus at major points of entries at the airports for example? Such centers can be used to hold all persons of medical interest. The truth is a good number of our isolation units are not near points of entry. This means the number of people who are likely to be risked are way to many than we can afford to have. Such a medical center that should hopefully cost nothing to the patients and if they will then be covered within your travel insurance but at a nominal fee. It means that the moment you arrive at an airport of your 3 hours to flight plus several hours layover time you can have a quick random check for weight, pressure, diabetes, address any allergies, expectant women are quickly checked. If found with a major concern to the bigger population you are automatically kept aside regardless of where you are coming from, transiting or going to. When found to transiting from a country put on high alert you are automatically put to aside for further checks.
This will force people to care for the little things that actually matter. In societies where people only go to hospitals when things are actually really bad such small steps could help us nub serious health risks in good time. Self-quarantine sounds good on paper but humans are social beings. We live among people we do things and must do things. There are financial obligations. That is practically impossible.
Improving our Primary Health Care systems will mean that issues are addressed in real-time. The reality remains that medically our biggest issues are not things such as cancer, corona, ebola, cholera. Yet we will spend and invest heavily then soon these equipment are rendered useless. Most of these issues become a matter of global health concern because of how fast they can spread in a very short time. Their symptoms being subtle but also with some the recovery chances are slim. Take cholera for example. What are we talking about? Hygiene and general environmental cleanliness. TB, Corona you do not have to be begged to wash hands, cover mouth, have good aeration these are things addressed by primary health care through public education and engagement. Have health care workers address patients during the unbelievable occasional long wait times as a medical records department is busy trying to locate a patient’s lost file. That is a good time as any to have medics and public health officers do mass teaching and even forward cases of concern.
If those systems work it also means we have more health-conscious people and can track the numbers, make use of such data responsibly and bring help closer to them. It also means we invest smartly because by the time an epidemic is actually reported, it means a lot of people are lost along the way thus higher risk. One of the solutions given to people is a toll-free line to report. But tell me how about this one person in the village who has no phone, no power? Do they have continuous education about a different kind of diseases or access to equipped health centers that can solve beyond malaria? This way you are not having people thinking someone gave them the bad eye. And this is not just a village problem. It is a cut across.
If we stopped monetizing our health systems and truly cared most of these issues will never be as big a problem as they are or seem now. A well-executed primary health care system will also ensure our road to Universal Health Coverage is much faster, our task force will go where there is a real need and palliative care will for once be properly addressed because it is such a huge gap in the system. We only think about it when faced with terminal illness however this is meant to begin from pre-diagnosis to point of demise. Yet we are not equipped for it, the society is not trained to address such health management issues and our medical practitioners to possible patient ratio does not work and no it is not because we do not have the personnel.
We have monetized the health system to become rich literally capitalizing on the health of human beings but we could never become wealthy in the process. It is time we realized a healthier people will give a wealthier nation and there will be more than enough for all. Creating situationships in favor of some as to create a controlled business is the definition of mental, moral, spiritual, emotional – poverty.
Some health solutions just like many others lay in proper policy framework and execution then political will rather than funding. Money is an enabler yes. But where we have a will we will create ways. Some solutions are in fact very simple almost insignificant but can save billions annually.
I could write a lot around my thoughts on this however watch this awesome TedTalk that was shared with me.
For now, take care of yourself. Take preventive measures. Protect others. Share useful information. Provide practical solutions. Pray and do your part. Prevention will always remain better than cure.