Although the coronavirus pandemic has made headlines in the media and absorbed medical efforts, it is important to remember that there are other diseases such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, which are still present, with important impacts in our country.
That was the axis around which the virtual forum “Take control of your health” was built, organized by Novo Nordisk and El Tiempo Publishing House.
The first part of the event, called “Medicine and patient care in times of pandemic”, brought together Dr. Andrés Aguirre, president of the Colombian Association of Hospitals and Clinics (ACHC), Dr. Henry Tovar, president of the Colombian Association of Endocrinología, Diabetes y Metabolismo (ACE) and Érika Montañez, director of Voces Diabetes Colombia, moderated by journalist Ximena Bedoya.
The three guests agreed in stating that the health emergency became a huge challenge for health and all its protagonists, forcing the medical staff to relearn various accompanying practices for patients and to give great importance to self-care.
For the president of the ACHC, although the pandemic revealed deficiencies in the health system, it also demonstrated the professionalism of doctors and nurses, and the ability to study credible sources was strengthened.
Likewise, it was necessary to educate the population and professionals in digital communication issues and the use of technological tools that would enable timely attention.
However, the system had flaws that hurt patients with chronic diseases.
During the forum it was announced that 2.8 million people with Type 2 diabetes have been identified in Colombia, a number that shows the existence of a parallel pandemic that cannot be ignored.
The director of Voces Diabetes Colombia stated that “it has been frustrating and difficult. After three months, our population was declared vulnerable, but there were delays in patient care ”.
The foregoing made bringing attention to virtuality a greater challenge, although the country had to learn not to procrastinate and appropriately adopt the resources offered by technology. In particular, the situation forced hospitals and clinics to make the leap to telemedicine, telecare and telecare.
“The evidence shows that, if these modalities were not used, there was a risk of causing serious problems, such as the oversaturation of the medical body,” said Dr. Andrés Aguirre in one of his interventions.
And while technology has helped improve access to consultations, it is necessary to emphasize that the health of people with chronic diseases is not being monitored, nor is the respective controls being carried out.
For Dr. Tovar, among the main challenges is that “people regain confidence in face-to-face appointments. We cannot allow the covid-19 to condition the health system ”.
The final recommendations for patients were:
– Go ahead with the treatments.
– Take care of yourself at home and do not wait until the last minute to consult or go to the doctor.
– Watch your weight.
– No to smoking.
– Don’t believe fake news.
Medical care, from a distance
In the second part of the virtual forum, called “Telemedicine: What has been done and what remains to be done?” Dr. Germán Escobar, chief of staff of the Ministry of Health, Érika Montañez, director of Voces Diabetes Colombia, and Dr. Elisa Torrenegra, executive director of Gestarsalud participated.
Dr. Torrenegra began by stating that changing the modality of care from face-to-face to home has been very demanding, but important for the system.
“Patients were brought health into their areas of life. In the insurance area, between April and October, 12,530,000 visits were made outside hospitals and clinics, including teleconsultations, home visits, delivery of medical formulas and laboratory tests, ”said the Gestarsalud executive.
For his part, Dr. Escobar pointed out that the Government has responded “in an intelligent, systematic and innovative way.”
And he added: “In the subsidized regime, the health system was transformed from a face-to-face to a home and teleconsultation. In total numbers we went from close to a million home care and through electronic channels, to more than thirty million in less than six months ”.
The chief of staff of the Ministry of Health also stated that users have learned that telemedicine is a useful tool, gaining trust among users and medical professionals, which “leaves us better prepared to face 2021 and the burden of disease that has been accumulating throughout this year ”.
Although obstacles are recognized in the care of patients with chronic diseases and the atomization of care, especially in the elderly, a situation that continues to be critical with and without a health emergency.
One of the government measures to change this reality is the accompaniment of Bill 010, which seeks to ensure primary health care in resolution centers, with an assignment of patients to primary care centers coupled with multidisciplinary teams.
In addition to legislative efforts, Dr. Torrenegra highlighted that the early identification and intervention of risks, with cross-cutting factors such as diet and physical activity, plus the promotion of healthy lifestyles and prevention, can give the health system the country’s sustainability it needs.
In conclusion, to the measures taken or that may be taken from now on by the entities of the sector, self-care actions by patients with chronic diseases should be added, including the intake of drugs according to medical recommendation, a balanced diet and permanent physical activity.