The focus during the pandemic is to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection. Proper authorities have implemented pandemic restrictions such as stay-at-home orders and restricted movements. Also, they have set health and safety measures in place like mask-wearing, social distancing, and having proper hygiene. Lastly, the health sector has been developing medications and medical treatments for COVID-19 infection while rolling out vaccines.
But apart from the COVID-19 infection itself, other public health issues have arisen. On top of these are mental health problems that have emerged due to home isolation. Other health concerns include the rise of infectious diseases and the threat to those with underlying health conditions.
Let’s look at some public health issues and learn what the health sector is doing to combat them.
1. Mental Health
Mental health has become a growing concern during the pandemic. Many individuals and families are suffering from stress, psychological stress, anxiety, and depression. These mental problems can be attributed to home isolation and future uncertainty. That is not to mention those who have lost their jobs, closed their businesses, and have been financially struggling.
The Washington Post reported that approximately one-third of Americans are showing anxiety and depression symptoms. This statistic goes to show how alarming mental health issues have become during the pandemic. It’s good that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been looking for ways to address these problems and extend support to the communities.
2. Drug Overdose and Addiction
Drug addiction has become a major problem during the pandemic. Many individuals have resorted to substance use and abuse to cope with the global crisis. They use drugs or substances to cope with their stress, psychological distress, depression, and anxiety.
The American Psychological Association (APA) claimed that 13 percent of Americans have started or increased using opioid drugs. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that fatal drug overdoses hit a record high last year. As such, psychologists and other clinicians must take robust steps to fight off drug overdose and addiction.
3. Communicable Diseases
The global health crisis has put an emphasis on combating the COVID-19 infection. For this reason, proper authorities have continuously rolled out vaccines. The goal is to get as many people and families in every community vaccinated. The problem, however, is that common immunization has somehow been set aside to give way to COVID-19 vaccination.
For this reason, the pandemic has influenced the way we handle infectious diseases. The crisis has paved the way for the rise of communicable diseases such as polio, malaria, tuberculosis, and even HIV. Even some children have delayed receiving vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It’s good that WHO and its partners have intensified their resolute commitment to address these infectious diseases.
4. Pregnancy and Abortion
Pregnancy can be a growing concern during the pandemic. One, access to health care is limited due to pandemic restrictions. Two, there is a threat to life brought about by the various strains of novel coronavirus. The problem, however, is that the shelter-in-place orders can lead to an increase in pregnancy cases.
For this reason, abortion has become a viable option for many pregnant women during the pandemic. The problem is access to contraception and the demand for safe abortion. Contraceptives must still be readily available on the market, and dependable abortion clinics must remain open to those needing abortion services. Lastly, WHO must consider declaring abortion an essential health service amid the pandemic.
5. Underlying Health Conditions
There are three types of people who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection — the elderly, children, and those with underlying health conditions. The latter group is a major problem during this pandemic. There is an irony between keeping these people in isolation for health protection and getting continuous health care due to their medical conditions.
The CDC identified health conditions that must not be taken for granted. These include the following:
- Chronic lung disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart conditions
Adults with these conditions are most likely to get severely ill and may even die when diagnosed with COVID-19. Hence, be sure to have the utmost health and safety protection for people with underlying health conditions.
There’s no denying the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health. While the goal is to put this crisis to an end, other health issues must not be neglected as well. These include mental health issues, drug addiction, infectious diseases, abortion, and underlying health conditions. Everyone must work hand in hand to combat the global health crisis—from the world leaders to the health sector down to every family.