COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11 2020, with dramatic consequences on the way we live. The rigours of lockdown and physical distancing posed major challenges to society, and specifically to healthcare systems. In the initial focus on acute COVID-19 treatment, management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was severely scaled down, and patients suffering from NCDs were given low priority. Appointments were postponed or cancelled due to re-allocation of healthcare personnel to tasks related to managing COVID-19. Healthcare providers, coping with inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment, minimised physical contact with patients to avoid contagion. Patients’ motivation to seek care diminished, as medical centres were perceived as potential sources of infection. The result was a major global disruption in NCD management just at a time when long-term conditions were emerging as major risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19.
Kardas, P., van Boven, J., Pinnock, H., Menditto, E., Wettermark, B., Tsiligianni, I., Ágh, T. & ENABLE Collaborators 2021, 'Disparities in European healthcare system approaches to maintaining continuity of medication for non-communicable diseases during the COVID-19 outbreak', The Lancet Regional Health Europe, 4, article no: 100099. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lanepe.2021.100099