Year : 2020 | Volume
: 6 | Issue : 1 | Page : 1--2
Learning curve from COVID-19 pandemic
Department of Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India
Department of Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry
|How to cite this article:|
Kanungo R. Learning curve from COVID-19 pandemic.J Curr Res Sci Med 2020;6:1-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Kanungo R. Learning curve from COVID-19 pandemic. J Curr Res Sci Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 21 ];6:1-2
Available from: http://www.jcrsmed.org/text.asp?2020/6/1/1/290251
COVID-19 pandemic and global response have been varied by country, region, and population dynamics. While some countries bore the brunt within a very short span, others have managed to slowdown the epidemic or flatten the curve. The global strategy as advocated by the WHO has been to (i) mobilize all sectors and communities, create awareness on social distancing and hand hygiene, and prevent aerosol spread by wearing masks; (ii) control sporadic cases and clusters and prevent community transmission by testing and isolating; (iii) suppress community transmission through social distancing and reduce mortality by providing appropriate clinical care; and (iv) develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics that can be delivered at scale, are need based, and are accessible.
India's slowdown of the pandemic is belied by the surging numbers of recent weeks. While some states have fared better and managed to contain the surge in cases, others have not been able to do so. That the initial slow spread and the lockdown had a positive impact on healthcare delivery system in the country, is undeniable. However, challenges faced due to the pandemic have been unique. It has encompassed the very fabric of society, the fall out of which has affected health, livelihood, and shelter, resulting in an upheaval unknown hitherto.
As the infection affected a large proportion of individuals, the health system came under strain to cater to the surging number of seriously ill patients. There is unequal distribution of healthcare delivery in the country. Urban areas that have borne the brunt of the present pandemic have managed to provide service to the ill. This is probably due to clustering of cases in urban areas and metropolises where the majority of tertiary care centers are situated. These centers have also had time to gather together COVID-19-centric infrastructure in terms of dedicated space, isolation units, and required life-saving measures, such as ventilators, ICU facilities, and personal protective equipment, during the slow rise in cases due to lockdown, in the initial phase of the pandemic in the country.
Despite hurried preparedness by these hospitals, challenges have been plenty. Drawing up and implementing protocols during the crisis have had several hurdles. Some of these have been on procurement of adequate material for managing cases, including adequate PPE for HCWs and other ancillary staff and training and mobilizing of workforce. Other challenges have been coordinating with regulatory bodies and keeping in line with changing guidelines and protocols. With round the clock duties, social distancing mandates, and postduty quarantine, the frontline medical professionals took the brunt falling prey to the infection, burn out, and exhaustion.
The pandemic has exposed our lacunae in disaster management preparedness, public health system, procedure on use of available resources, and meeting the requirement in healthcare setups, including ramping up detection and tracing. Addressing other social issues that had a direct fall out on health and disease transmission is another area of concern.
There is no easy solution to the gamut of problems which a disaster of this magnitude throws up. The lessons learned in the process for healthcare setups are plenty. Notable among them is to have contingency plans.
At individual hospital levels, what are the exigencies that have to be addressed? (i) Foremost is to build a team which can be called upon to rapidly implement laid down guidelines and protocols. (ii) The other requirement for meeting the challenge is continual training of personnel, upgrading material, and updating knowledge. (iii) The hospital infection control team has to be robust and proactive, to be prepared for such eventualities. Infection control practices have to be regularly monitored and audited, not just in immediate patient care areas but also across the healthcare setup, at all levels of personnel, including housekeeping, ancillary services, registration counters, maintenance, and dietary services. Health etiquette, personal protection, and hygiene have to be mandated across all levels of healthcare workers. (iv) Setting up contingency plans for stand by essential items to meet emergencies to be in place and monitored in real time in conjunction with hospital pharmacy. (v) Plans for patient flow, monitoring services have to be in place with periodic updates. (vi) Emergency cell needs to be created and be operational at all times. This cell must include a nodal officer and a team, to coordinate these activities and liaison with governmental and other regulatory bodies. The cell not only can swing into action during major events but also can take up the challenge even during small out breaks or annual epidemics. (vii) Above all, the administration and management must feel the need for such all-time preparedness to avoid knee jerk reaction at such eventualities. (viii) Public–private partnership to tackle the situation is another crucial area. No individual or organization can work in silos. A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities is vital in this partnership. COVID-19 outbreak has brought to the fore the importance of such an undertaking for the betterment of the society as a whole.
Over the years, there have been several pandemics across the globe, wiping out hundreds and thousands of vulnerable population. COVID-19 pandemic has already infected more than five million and claimed 3.3 lakh lives at this point of time. Its effect will be felt for a long time to come. Every pandemic has been a learning point, and the world has emerged from it like the phoenix. It is hoped that the present pandemic too will be a turning point in recent history and humankind comes out of it stronger with valuable lessons learned.