Epidemic and public health | The best services and treatments are on the horizon

The pandemic has been a time of great challenges. It has forced governments around the world to plunge their economies into an artificial coma for more than a year, hampering economic growth and reducing their financial resilience due to the explosion in public borrowing.

Martin Desrosiers and Luke Valley
Otolaryngologist respectively, Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of Montreal and former Chief Economist at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

However, the pandemic has also accelerated development and innovation in many sectors. It has also profoundly changed behaviors that, even if partially preserved, will provide help and support to millions of people.

On the one hand, digitization has developed very rapidly. As a result, many companies have embraced new business models and are transitioning to the digital economy now for at least a few years, if not a decade to come.

On the other hand, the possibility of working and attending school remotely also provides real advantages to large segments of the population, both in terms of saving time and improving access; Not to mention its positive impact on the climate, another pressing problem and enormous challenge.

In addition, the pandemic has provided a powerful incentive for private companies and public organizations to increase the resilience of our global supply chains.

Productivity gains, increased comfort at work and school, reduced harmful emissions, and improved risk management should certainly help organizations and individuals better navigate the next storm; It is not assumed that the current crisis has ended permanently.

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Effects on the health sector

In addition, the health sector has been particularly affected during the pandemic. Yet he made many great strides. For example, telemedicine has made a strong comeback when as recently as 2020 it was seen as an unrealistic project, mired in a bureaucratic nightmare and the negative grip of the profession.

Admittedly, telemedicine will not completely replace face-to-face consultations and may have prompted clinicians to pay their patients for tests that would have otherwise been avoided, creating bottlenecks elsewhere in the system.

However, telemedicine and other emerging technologies, when used effectively and under the right conditions, are already showing their huge potential in reducing waiting times in hospitals and physicians’ offices, patient waiting lists, operations and consultations, as well as costs for patients and taxpayers.

The pandemic has also exposed the sector’s structural weaknesses and is now forcing it to reorganize which should have significant benefits. This is much needed, as developed countries’ population and healthcare costs are expected to rise more rapidly as a percentage of government spending and GDP. It remains to be seen if politicians have the wisdom and courage to move forward if the current crisis subsides soon.

discoveries and behaviors

The effects of the pandemic on increasing scientific discovery and changing human behavior, which are likely to lead to very significant improvements in disease prevention and treatment, have not received much publicity.

While much has been written in the media about the time needed to make up for delays in some surgeries caused by the pandemic, little has been heard from the truth about the long delays for children needing corrective surgery. Extremely painful ear infections, for example, are almost eliminated.

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He also magically healed many children who were still on the waiting list. Physical distancing, mask-wearing, and old hand-washing in particular are likely to promote personal hygiene.

Even the spread of influenza, which until recently caused many hospitalizations and deaths – an average of 40,000 deaths a year in the United States alone – has fallen by nearly 90% in many countries, including Canada.

One notable exception has been an increase in cases of allergies, possibly as a result of a more sterile environment during the pandemic that has weakened our immune system’s ability to fight off pathogens.

On the pharmaceutical front, apart from the extraordinary development of many COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic has caused the medical community to scrutinize the viruses.

A better understanding of the interactions of viruses with the human body has generated new knowledge about respiratory infections, and promises future treatments that may, perhaps one day, eliminate the virus; You will learn more about this in the second part of this text, which will be published tomorrow.

So there is hope that, in the not-too-distant future, let’s hope our healthcare system will provide faster and better services and better treatments for more diseases.

It will, of course, require resources and vision on the part of policy makers to make this happen. But it must also be recognized that only by holding ourselves accountable for our individual actions and behaviors during this pandemic will we make this vision a reality more quickly.

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