Pandemics: the time to act is now

Pandemics: the time to act is now

On January 1, four years ago, China reported 27 cases of pneumonia of unknown origin. Three days later, the alert was issued for 571 cases. On January 30, the World Health Organization declared an international emergency, and on February 14, the Spanish state imposed a state of alert. This was followed by seven epidemic waves, 2.7 million infections, and approximately 27,000 deaths in Catalonia. Today, Covid-19 has not yet disappeared, and is resurging, thanks to two variants, EG.5, known as Eris, and BA.23.56, called Pirola, present since the summer in Catalonia, and the emergence of a “new variant of” interest, JN.1. . Vaccination rates in our home are also lower than before, with what this could have an impact on community immunity.

In this context, the Evaluacov0id-19 report was published. Evaluating the performance of the Spanish national health system in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons about the pandemic, with the aim of providing useful information that guides decision-making to strengthen and unify the National Health Service and make it more resilient in the face of future pandemic threats. This is addressed through 12 main actions, embodied in 72 actions.

There is almost nothing new in the report, but it is always important to remember and remember that we have homework to do.

The first and most important reason is that everything that happened was the result of pre-existing problems in our healthcare system. It reminds us that previous protocols did not exist; Coordination errors at all levels; Communication errors Lack of strategic reserves of materials and tools; lack of well-coordinated information and warning systems; lack of diagnostic resources; The legislative shortcomings that created judicial chaos with rulings; – Lack of knowledge in the housing and social field, and mainly, lack of human resources, both quantitatively and qualitatively, especially in the fields of public health and primary care, and also in the social housing sector. We've already talked about all this, and quite a bit. Interestingly, what was practically not mentioned was political manipulation, which had a lot to do with the resulting confusion in certain moments of the pandemic. On the positive side, the recognition of the work and the self-organization capacity of professionals and the success of the initial vaccination campaign, which is considered one of the best proposed campaigns.

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Early action

Obviously, the earlier you act, the better the outcome. We must be able to acknowledge the existence of the epidemic, even if we can be accused of sensationalism, and quickly detect the presence of cases, trace contacts and, if necessary, isolate them and implement quarantine. Yes, the lockdown caused problems, but in the ignorance of what was happening, and without vaccines or effective drug treatments, the lockdown saved many lives.

On December 27, the World Epidemic Preparedness Day, organized by the United Nations since 2020, was celebrated in light of the outbreak of the epidemic. We must remember the words of the Director of the World Health Organization: “A devastating epidemic could start in any country, at any time, and kill millions of people, because we are not prepared.”

The fundamental question is whether we are prepared now and here for all that has happened and what we should have learned.

The answer is “no”. A lot has been done, but we need a real ability to predict, detect and respond, and that requires a good surveillance system, not just in terms of human health, but also in terms of animal health and the environment, the One Health Strategy, and that means good interconnected information systems. It also means ready and standardized legal and administrative tools. By the way, in Catalonia, we have not yet developed the Public Health Agency of Catalonia. Above all, we need human resources and a sufficient number of prepared professionals in the fields of public health, primary care and the social housing sector. In conclusion, give general reports periodically on what has been done to prepare us and what still needs to be done.

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It's time to act, now.

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