12/01/2021

Healthcare at the limit

2 min
Professionals sanitaris traslladant ahir un pacient amb covid-19 a l’Hospital de Bellvitge.

BarcelonaIt is not just the lack of ICU beds to care for seriously ill patients unrelated to covid-19. It is not only a question of postponing interventions or check-ups in patients with various pathologies beyond the pandemic. It is not only about mortality or the long-term effects of coronavirus. All this is serious enough in itself. But the virus is affecting the health system and the health of citizens in a very transversal way. Every day that the data get worse, this general fracture is deepening. And, from what we are seeing, the infection curve continues to climb data provided this Tuesday represent a record number of infections (6,981), the highest figure recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. If we look at the greater picture, we see how, in fact, the conviction that the critical situation will last until April is taking hold of Europe. Everyone is also beginning to assume that the most massive vaccination cannot take place until then. In particular, Germany fears the possible arrival of the much more contagious British variant of the virus. If they fear it in Berlin, perhaps we should also seriously consider it in Barcelona. In any case, difficult months lie ahead, which will find us collectively very worn out.

If we look at the health system, it is once again showing clear symptoms of how extreme the situation is. It can be argued from many angles, with many data and situations. Today we are referring to two palpable realities for which there is worrying evidence. The first example: almost half of health care workers (specifically 45.7%) who work in the State are at risk of suffering some kind of mental disorder. We are talking about front-line professionals on whom we depend to find our way out of this crisis. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder are the most common conditions they suffer. The most affected groups are the nurses and nursing assistants. That is, the first shock force. They have had many months of stress and overexertion, to which we must add current bleak prospects and uncertainty as to when it will all end. Right now, April is a long way off. Physical and emotional overflow is beginning to take its toll. The second example is the drastic reduction this past 2020 in the number of transplants performed in Catalonia. They have fallen by 23%, meaning they have dropped to 2015 levels. Organ donations have also fallen very significantly: 29%. It is obvious to say that with fewer organs and fewer transplants, fewer lives will have been saved.

These cases, among others, should make us even more aware of the seriousness of the situation and lead us to act accordingly. This applies both to citizens as a whole in our daily lives and to the political and technical leaders of the administrations, both when it comes to strengthening the health system and when it comes to taking and enforcing measures to restrict social life. The context is undoubtedly very difficult, but that is precisely why we need maximum rigour and responsibility.

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