But if it is already known that winter viruses will arrive every year, and we have gone through a pandemic that left behind a series of political lessons and promises, why are we once again facing a wave that puts the health system under pressure? These are the main mistakes made, according to the diagnosis of four specialists. Progress: No preventive measures or structural measures have been taken that could have alleviated the current situation.
Vaccination: low rates.
The numbers show that the vaccination rate against influenza and Covid is low. That's why, weeks ago, when this was recorded, “parenting” should have been done. Daniel Lopez Acuña, an epidemiologist and former director of the World Health Organization, asks: “I acted passively, waiting to make an appointment, when vaccination should have been promoted without a prior appointment and in large areas, as happened in 2021.” (from). It has also not been adequately reported that children – aged 6 months to 5 years – can be vaccinated this year against influenza and children against RSV, two of the most important measures. Thus, the highest rates of infection occur in children aged 0 to 4 years, who in turn can transmit the infection to their parents or grandparents.
Little use of mask.
The political dispute over whether masks are necessary or not in health centers is “overdue,” according to experts consulted by this newspaper. “We did not fully understand that this is a pillar of prevention, regardless of whether it is imposed or not. The government does not force me to carry an umbrella when it rains, but I use it. The same should happen with the mask.” When you have symptoms,” explains Javier Membrillo, vice president of the Society for Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC). “The ideal is to act like Asians,” adds epidemiologist Joan Caila, who has been in favor of imposing masks in health centers since the beginning of December. “Who use it to avoid infection or get infections regularly.”
Lack of hands and beds.
Another mistake is not strengthening health centres, which always have few resources but at Christmas, with holidays and public holidays, they are at a minimum. Winter plans in communities, according to specialists, are insufficient, especially in affected primary care. “If we have a reinforced clinic, which can go more frequently to homes, the elderly will not have to travel so much to the emergency room,” says Ildefonso Hernandez, spokesman for the Public Health and Health Administration Association (SESPAS). In addition to hands, hospitals lack spaces such as cubicles, waiting rooms and beds, forcing some centers to postpone non-urgent surgeries.
The monitoring system is also flawed, as it does not record the total number of tests performed but rather a percentage, and the data is extrapolated from there. In addition, it is believed that there is an under-diagnosis of coronavirus infection, since most people do not report serious symptoms, they either do not go to the doctor, or a pharmacy test is done, which is not registered. Therefore, there is “no picture of the situation, to make the right decisions,” according to Hernandez.
Public Health Agency.
Specialists also miss the launch of the Public Health Agency, which was approved but not working. “If they had existed and were independent and technical in nature, it would have been difficult to use the regional councils in a partisan manner, because it would have been difficult to refute their recommendations. In addition, they could have adopted a communication policy on vaccination, says the SESPAS spokesman: “Mask or hygiene that does not depend on “Political color.” In contrast, Kayla calls for more epidemiologists who are experts in infectious diseases and have more authority to make policy decisions.
Lack of work flexibility.
Another structural problem is that there are not enough work permits or remote work permits for a person with mild symptoms to stay at home, to avoid spreading the virus. It is also common practice to give children paracetamol and take them to school with phlegm, cough or sore throat. “A working group should be established to study the necessary measures to address the issue of absenteeism, remote work and school-related issues, study the policies of other countries and make reasonable proposals,” Hernandez says.
“Bull by the horns”
But there is still time to “take the bull by the horns,” stresses Lopez-Acuña, because “there are two months left until winter.” In light of this, the former Director of Public Health at the World Health Organization calls on health authorities in particular to intensify messages about the comfort of wearing a mask or avoiding crowded places when symptoms of infection with one of these viruses appear. In addition, this expert calls for “accelerating” the vaccination process, as there is still time. The current flu wave is declining, but new attacks are not excluded, and in light of this, it is important to immunize yourself with vaccines. And also in confronting the Corona virus, which is not seasonal.
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