Around the end of 2019 and early 2020, the pandemic has been the most significant global challenge. There have been deaths on a massive scale while we grappled for a vaccine. However, our troubles didn’t end there. Our healthcare facilities and workers also got highly overwhelmed. What made the situation far worse is how hospitals ran out of resources for the first time. The world has never been in such deep chaos. As we attempt to gain some semblance of normalcy, the public health sector also needs acknowledgment.
Pandemics wreak havoc on public health. Communities are affected in more than one way. While infectious diseases experts study strains and treatments, it will take time to help the public. So, we get forced to confront the virus by attempting to keep it safe. For many households, some deeply rooted domestic issues also came to light. We saw a sweeping escalation in abuse, trauma, and even health issues. To understand the plight of people better, we will walk through some common public health issues. Here’s what the society is currently pushing through amid the pandemic:
1. Surviving the Virus
While the WHO and CDC discussed surviving corona, it wasn’t a possibility for many families. There was a need to socially distance and even wear masks. Different communities live in closely knitted houses and don’t have many resources to keep themselves safe. Since there was also a massive closing of shops and centers, alternate housing was not an option. Many public health experts also urged the population to wear masks which was a challenge in itself.
Furthermore, to tackle different health issues, there is increased demand for more healthcare workers worldwide. Therefore, to fulfill this demand, more individuals are interested in joining the public health sector. Aspirants can opt for MPH degrees online to enter the workforce and help people in this crisis. Online education allows them to continue their studies with their current job.
2. Increase in Mental Health Conditions
One of the unfortunate downsides of the pandemic is mental health issues. Remote working, quarantine, and even distance learning have all taken a toll on people and their health. There have also been tight restrictions on social gatherings and stepping outside of houses. For many people, getting shut out from society takes a toll on their mental health. Feelings of isolation, depression, and even anxiety start seeping in. It also doesn’t help that people have families living in corona red zones. These red zones indicate the high numbers of COVID-19 cases with limited opportunities to recover. Since the lockdown situation was indefinite, there has been a massive fluctuation in how we think and perceive. Loneliness can easily translate into sadness and may even lead to drastic paths such as suicidal thoughts.
3. More Alcohol and Substance Abuse
It is not unusual for people to turn to substances to escape. There are several reasons why the pandemic contributed to an increase in substance abuse. Some people lost their jobs, they felt isolated, and some people felt scared. For some people, their unstable domestic situations also contributed to turning to alcohol and substance abuse. Escapism is a form of response to any traumatic situation. The pandemic has been intensely agonizing for populations worldwide. So another tremendous public health crisis was countering alcohol and substance abuse and finding ways to rehabilitate such people.
4. Food Safety
People could no longer go to grocery stores. Closing of stores and switching to remote deliveries entails less attention-getting paid to the stocks. There is a chance that food is not stored correctly, and most perishable items are not fit for consumption. There is also a risk that corona can transmit itself through improper food packaging to the people who ordered them. In addition, restaurants may not follow proper hygiene facilities and deliver contaminated food. Consuming contaminated food can be lethal. Numerous microbes infect contaminated food. So while the population is trying to survive COVID-19, they also need to watch out for typhoid and hepatitis A. Even though both the CDC and the FDA actively track contaminated food, there is still much work.
5. Infections From Hospitals
During the pandemic, it was also difficult to access healthcare. Hospitals had become a corona hotspot. Unless it was necessary, the public health sector advised people not to come in. However, despite these safety measures, the rate of infection was still high. Sharing devices such as catheters and ventilators can carry the disease. There is also a chance that infection may spread due to surgical site infections. When hospitals become unsafe, it can take a toll on the public. While videos and messages may float online on self-care and maintaining hygiene, they’re not enough. Patients who need routine checkups and even follow-up medication cannot administer care at home.
6. More Obesity
Many people staying home reverted to eating as a form of coping mechanism. Unhealthy snacks and overconsumption of calories may lead to obesity. There was a massive change in the dietary habits of people. More people preferred eating and sitting idly. Eating coupled with a lack of exercise escalates the rate of obesity. However, it doesn’t stop there. Obesity brings with it a different onset of problems. There are more heart problems, mobility issues, and degraded lung capacity. So, with an already looming pandemic, obesity entering the picture spells trouble for the healthcare sector. The healthcare infrastructure will struggle under the burden of these piling diseases.
7. Prescription Drug Overdose
There has been a gradual increase in opioid abuse. However, during the pandemic, there was a more significant increase in drug usage. People alone with drugs have a high chance of overdosing. Most emergency helpline services were already saturated, and since people can’t check on each other, tragedy is waiting to happen. It also doesn’t help that people have leftover hard painkillers and pills from their visitations to the hospital. Mental health troubles followed by isolation prompts people to become reckless. While some turn to alcohol, others may try to use prescription drugs recreationally. Most of these drugs are highly potent, so it takes slight overuse for a drastic effect.
There have been many health issues ever since the pandemic entered the picture. Unless there are measures in place, these issues will take a toll on the population. While the population is busy surviving corona, they are also combating other problems. There is a noticeable increase in drug and substance abuse with deteriorating mental health conditions. For some people, lack of physical and an increase in nutrition have led to obesity. Obesity has a category of its own. People with obesity are more susceptible to heart conditions and a flawed immune system. For a society already struggling under the weight of the pandemic, more diseases can destroy the system.