A global report on the continuity of essential health care services by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that 48% of countries saw significant disruptions to their mental health services.
The Pulse report surveyed health ministries involved with WHO to gauge the impact that the pandemic had on their ability to provide essential health care as compared to the period prior to the pandemic.
It found that 48% of countries reported full or partial disruptions to their ability to treat mental health issues and non-communicable diseases. 30% also reported disruptions in their ability to provide reproductive, maternal and child health.
In contrast, on 15% reported disruptions to their ability to provide critical care, and 18% reported issues with treatment for communicable diseases. This may be due to increased investment in these areas as a result of COVID-19.
The report also highlighted a disparity between the ability of wealthy nations and their poorer counterparts.
For example, the report indicated that disruptions were focused on countries deemed “low income” by WHO, with 45% of those countries reporting disruptions to 75% of their nation’s services at some point during the pandemic. This is compared to only 4% of countries classified as “high income”.
WHO plans to use the report to assist with its response to the pandemic.
“This [report] reinforces the need for strategic adaptations to ensure maintenance of essential health services,” the report’s authors said.