A few days ago, the movement “Saúde em Dia – Do not hide your health” was launched, whose promoters are the Ordem dos Médicos and the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators. It is a campaign that aims to make the Portuguese population aware of the consequences of the pandemic on access to other health care. I was present at the campaign presentation and was extremely concerned about some of the information provided.
In the first seven months of this year, compared to the same period last year, it appears that less than a million consultations were carried out in primary health care; if we only consider face-to-face consultations, then we will have four million less; by joining face-to-face nursing care, two million less are counted. More specifically, we will be talking about less than 7,016,241 million face-to-face contacts. As for hospital care, there are two million fewer; in true telemedicine (not just telephone contacts) an additional 6,732 people have been registered, but despite this large number, it is far from the approximately two million mentioned. In terms of access to emergency services, it is estimated that there were less than a million and less than five hundred thousand for more serious emergencies. In other areas, access to diagnostic tests, 35% less, and endoscopies, 48% less, caught my attention.
I admit that we were surprised by a new disease that is still poorly understood, with serious risks for people with certain associated pathologies. That the National Health Service was not prepared for new clinical tests and unexpected and strong pressure on the working time of health personnel. It is also known that there are many more deaths from non-covid-19 causes.
Thus, one of the big challenges that health authorities must face if, it seems, a new wave of pandemic occurs, is the reasonable and effective balance of health care for all diseases. It is necessary to maintain, even intensify, the responsible conscience of the Portuguese population so that the pandemic does not intensify and, above all, that the safe but humanized protection of those who are at vital risk is not neglected.
This zealous attention requires a pedagogy in the communication of measures that is akin to “salt in food”, in sufficient quantity. Slowing down recommendations may undermine the danger of this new coronavirus; too much information and recommendations can create negative resilience. However, the time spent with this new disease can in no way neglect other health care. It is very prejudicial to continue to postpone diagnostic tests for diseases with a proven prevalence of mortality; check “you don’t know when!” consultations and treatments whose failure to carry out aggravates illnesses that are already chronic or which, for this reason, may become so. In healthcare, as in many other areas of service delivery, personal contact is essential. Doctors and nurses know this very well.
Neither can we continue to speak, in a “minor tone”, of the very serious socio-economic crisis which has already started and which is far from reaching the top of the “curve” of the impoverishment of the country. , therefore, individuals and families. It is counterproductive to contribute to the instigation of fear – always a bad advisor – in all circumstances, but we must not fail to alert social problems which are already very serious and which will become even more dramatic. The point is that death is not just physical, many people die in themselves and for society. This type of death is more than exclusion, it is the absence of being. Something urgently needs to be done to prevent this kind of annihilation from happening.
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Portugal’s 2020-2030 economic and social recovery plan was in public consultation. However, the option was to make economic issues more relevant. Therefore, it should be complemented, as soon as possible, by a social recovery plan in which the poverty eradication strategy is seen as a central element. The economic crisis is inevitable, but we must be realistic optimists. I mean, the black colors that will be painted over the next few years should not be charged, so that unfounded discouragement does not set in or hope is stolen from anyone. It is necessary to quickly create a replacement income or to strengthen the existing measure to achieve the same objectives, such as the social inclusion income; resume active employment policies; fight against computer illiteracy; create measures to encourage the autonomy of young people / adults. These may be just some of the many urgent measures, such as access to housing, the creation of day care centers, the implementation of new measures for a better quality of life for the elderly; serious inclusion of minorities; define more decisive strategies to welcome migrants …
The important thing is to restore dignity and save lives, more than to maintain and defend the systems.
The author writes according to the new spelling agreement