People with chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) faced multiple challenges in accessing health care in Odisha’s Khordha district during the Covid-19 pandemic, suggests a study.
The ICMR-Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) and the Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) jointly conducted the mixed-method study in Khordha district of Odisha during May-June 2020. The report was published today.
A total of 491 individuals, having at least one NCD, participated in the study. Among them, 51 per cent (252) were males.
The study revealed that nearly two-thirds of the participants encountered challenges in their routine investigation (69 per cent); while 67 per cent faced trouble in day-care procedures and 61 per cent in reaching hospital.
Similarly, around 59 per cent participants reported issues in doctor appointments, 56 per cent faced challenges in emergency treatment, 47 per cent in access to the pharmacy and the healthcare of 46 per cent participants got delayed.
Meanwhile, 37 per cent perceived that they could not access healthcare facilities because of social restriction/lockdown, 29 per cent attributed arranging finance as a constraint to visiting hospitals and 16 per cent avoided going to the hospital, fearing Covid-19 infection, the study says.
“Qualitative findings revealed that before the onset of the pandemic, participants managed their NCD conditions by routinely visiting hospitals or physicians. Almost all considered their routine treatment as a lesser priority during the pandemic compared to the threat of Covid-19,” it said.
Those living in the urban areas with more than one non-communicable disease reported a significantly higher challenge in having doctor’s consultation compared to those living in rural areas with a single NCD condition.
The study also found that family networks were the primary source of support among the respondents (96 per cent), while about three per cent relied on their friends and neighbours.
Some of the participating patients also tried to avail teleconsultation or consulted their physicians through telephone or Internet-based platforms. However, non-availability of their health records and background information on treatment was the major challenge while approaching a new physician on a telemedicine platform.