EHS-COVID (277) Fear of COVID and delays in seeking care for non-COVID disease

3 May, 2021

Extracts from a UN news article and a comment from me below. Full text: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/05/1090972

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Healthcare workers in Malawi are concerned that misinformation about COVID-19 is preventing patients in dire need of medical attention not related to the virus, from seeking what could be life-saving treatment.

When Eunice Marorongwe, a senior nurse at a rural hospital in Malawi, received a child patient with a serious leg infection, she was shocked at how her parents could keep her at home for a month, without getting treatment to save her life... The leg could not stretch and, from the foot to the knee, it was very bad. It had turned into a green colour and was producing a very bad smell. A tree branch pierced through the girl’s right leg, but her parents stayed put at home; not because they saw no need to rush to the hospital for treatment but because of fears and myths surrounding COVID-19...

Mobile clinics and health surveillance assistants have been bringing health services to those living in the most remote parts of the country.

Malawi’s Minister of Health, Khumbize Chiponda, says that with support from the UN and partners, “the Ministry of Health continues to send COVID-19 prevention and control messages to communities. Our laboratory testing and disease surveillance capacity has been increased to test more cases across the country.”

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Comment (NPW): It is increasingly clear that delays in seeking health care because of COVID-19 misinformation is a major problem. I would like to invite HIFA members to share their observations on what is happening in other countries in Africa and worldwide (especially India and Brazil). Is COVID-19 misinformation leading to late care-seeking for other serious conditions?

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19

https://www.hifa.org/projects/essential-health-services-and-covid-19

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org