Bahrain - Countries in the region are working effectively to put back on track quality healthcare services which were disrupted globally during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) study, based on feedback from 129 countries, also said more than 90 per cent of them reported some degree of disruption in at least one essential health service, while emergency, critical and operative care were hit in 38pc of the countries, elective surgeries in 59pc, rehabilitative services in 52pc and community care in 54pc.

The report, titled ‘Global pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the Covid-19 pandemic’, is the third round of survey by the WHO aimed at obtaining a snapshot of the challenges posed by changes during the pandemic.

Bahrain is one of 22 countries in the region which responded to the global review, reflecting the kingdom’s much-acclaimed transparency, one of the pillars of the successful national strategy adopted to battle the pandemic.

“Covid-19 continues to disrupt health services in almost all countries,” said the report.

“Two years into the pandemic, service disruptions persist across all regions and income levels.

“A total of 117 out of 129 countries reported some extent of disruption in at least one essential health service – similar to early 2021 levels.

“All healthcare settings and service delivery platforms were affected, particularly first contact services.

“Most service delivery settings experienced similar disruption levels in early 2021, with concerning increases reported in disruptions to potentially life-saving emergency care, likely resulting in substantial near-term increased mortality from both Covid-19 and other time-sensitive conditions.

“About twice as many countries reported service disruptions for ambulance services between Q1 2021 and Q4 2021.

Ambulance services disrupted during pandemic

“More than 40pc countries reported increased backlogs in multiple essential health services during the second half of 2021, including care for cancer, other non-communicable diseases and rehabilitation.”

The disruptions were due to both supply and demand factors, with a third of the countries reporting that lack of healthcare resources and policies had forced them to suspend or scale back services, while one-fourth of the nations reported decreased care-seeking.

“All countries reported using at least one strategy to overcome service disruptions, such as home-based care and catch-up visits, recruitment, training and support to health workers, procurement of surge commodities, communications with communities and several health financing strategies.”

The quarterly survey done in three-parts from 2020 until last November also highlights the information needed by countries to support policy and planning dialogue on critical bottlenecks as they steer towards quality essential health services.

Disruptions in healthcare during the pandemic

“Most countries reported bottlenecks to scaling up access to essential Covid-19 tools – 92pc of countries reported at least one bottleneck to Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccination and personal protection equipment access,” it said.

Other bottlenecks included lack of funding health workforce challenges, supply and equipment shortages, lack of needed data and information, lack of strategy, guidance, or protocols and lack of distribution capacity.

The report said about two-thirds of countries had policies and plans for continuity of essential health services during the pandemic.

“Half of the countries had plans for building longer-term health service resilience and preparedness, while more than two-thirds of the nations allocated additional funding for longer-term health system recovery.”

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