Response to COVID-19 in Americas must include chronic disease care – PAHO Director

PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne. File photo

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, today said the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Region of the Americas must include chronic disease care, as 1 in 4 people are at increased risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19 due to underlying non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Noting that more than 2.4 million cases and over 143,000 deaths have made the Americas the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Etienne said during a media briefing today, “as cases continue to rise in our region, our efforts to protect those with underlying conditions must intensify.”

In South America, “we are particularly concerned that the number of new cases reported last week in Brazil was the highest for a seven-day period, since the outbreak began. Both Peru and Chile are also reporting a high incidence,” she said. For most countries in the Americas, “now is not the time to relax restrictions or scale back preventive strategies. Now is the time to stay strong, remain vigilant and aggressively implement proven public health measures,” Dr. Etienne said.

“We have never seen such a deadly relationship between an infectious disease and Non-Communicable Diseases. Some of the data are truly alarming. Especially for our region, where NCDs are pervasive,” she said.  “We need aggressive preventive measures to protect people with diabetes, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from the new coronavirus.”

Persons with diabetes are twice as likely to have severe disease or die, and 28 percent of cancer patients who contracted COVID-19 died, compared with 2 percent of overall patients, she said, citing recent studies. Smoking also increases the chance of severe disease from COVID-19.

Stay at home measures, disruptions in provision of health care services, as well as the fear of attending care facilities have resulted in reduced elective clinic visits and lower access to renal dialysis, cancer care, and delays in high priority treatments for patients with NCDs, Dr. Etienne said. Many health workers who normally provide care for people with chronic disease “have been redirected to the COVID-19 response, adversely impacting the timely diagnosis and treatment of NCDs,” PAHO’s Director added.

Lower access to care from disruptions in health care services “puts patients at higher risk of complications and death from diseases which we know how to treat,” and health systems must find ways to respond “or we will be faced with a parallel epidemic of preventable deaths of persons with NCDs,” Dr. Etienne said.

Prior to COVID-19, 81 percent of all deaths in the Region of the Americas were due to NCDs and 39 percent of these deaths were premature, occurring before 70 years of age. PAHO’s Director said it was important to find safe methods of delivering essential clinical care for people with NCDs during the pandemic. “For example, many countries are quickly scaling up telemedicine, prioritizing scheduled appointments to avoid crowded waiting rooms and providing services in novel ways.”

Dr. Etienne said that countries should ensure that supply chains for essential NCD medicines are protected and continue to function efficiently and that these products are distributed to the people who need them.

“We also must ensure timely access to care for chronic diseases to prevent them from becoming life-threatening. PAHO is working with countries in the region and providing guidance to help plan and implement these measures. As cases continue to rise in our region, our efforts to protect those with underlying conditions must intensify,” she emphasized.

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  1. May 29, 2020

    I would not lower my name to your level of ignorance, stupidity and insanity. I don’t think the good doctor would condescend to your garbage. I only give my name to people whose company I admire. For you, I would keep on social distancing even after covid-19 is long over.

  2. May 28, 2020

    @ Francisco, you are a disgrace to the human race. You are mentally deficient in something that is indescribable. Not even the good doctor has a cure for your illness. You are mentally unstable and a jack of all trade, master of none. Lennox will never be the Prime Minister of Dominica. I don’t think you ever had a dream come true. You are nothing but a boomboom clat.

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      May 28, 2020

      Yes, let me be a disgrace, I much prefer to be a disgrace than to be an idiot! 

      It is always better to be an academically educated disgrace than a none educated semi-illiterate, or an illiterate idiot eh!


      Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque is no idiot eh; me grandmother when she took me to kindergarten the first day I went to school; when I returned home, she told me “make sure you learn even is as much to be able to read and write a letter of your own.”

      I accomplished that; and the rest of my educational accomplishments is actually history!

      I am a disgrace; however, I am not a fictitious dog!

      I have a name by which I am identified: People name their  Dogs, Cats, Chickens, Snakes the place of dumping their garbage, and even the pit-holes filled with you know what in Dominica; however, some lessor humans does not have a name.

      If they do: I defy them to write it on DNO.

       No name no warrant eh!

      • Gary
        May 30, 2020

        It is sad, you do not know the extent of your foolishness. When you say, “It is always better to be an academically educated” Wow, such statement is the extent of your ignorance and silliness you do not know I’m referring to, be content with your academic education, LOL.

        • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
          June 6, 2020

          You are one who like to criticize playing smart, when you are obviously semi-illiterate. Just because you can write some kindergarten comments does not mean you are scholastically educated never mind academically educated!

          I don’t even think you that Gary graduated kindergarten eh!


          Academically educated means: a member or scholar at an institution of higher learning, such as a college or university.

          Or; one who has an academic viewpoint or a scholarly background;  at least that I have accomplished!

          Take that and run Gary, wheal and come back again with a bigger insult for me, meanwhile exposing your lack of intelligence.

  3. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    May 27, 2020

    You are a pathetic waste of time; a disgrace to yourself, and a shame to Dominica!

    You do not deserve to be in that position; claiming to be some doctor; the people who elected you for that job must have already regretted they selected you.

    You are a useless token!

    Nobody is listening to you, nor do they want to hear you oui!

  4. Jay
    May 27, 2020

    Also one of the major markers for becoming seriously ill with this virus is being overweight.

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