The Indian Ministry of
Health is spending an enormous amount of capital on health education. There are
thousands of articles and blog posts to raise awareness about several acute and
chronic diseases and their prevention. In this article, we shall discuss in
brief the benefits of reading about your diseases and how to prevent them.
BENEFITS OF READING ABOUT YOUR DISEASE:
The first step to defeat
any enemy or threat is to know about it. In the case of prevention of diseases,
knowing its proper definition is of utmost importance. The more you know about
your ailment, the better you’re prepared for combat. Below-mentioned are 3
benefits of knowing your disease.
Helps in early detection
The foremost consequence of any ailment is its
signs and symptoms. These two aspects can be perceived as a significant tool to
evaluate your ailment. However, one can be aware of signs and symptom only by
reading about the disease. At first, the patient observes uncomfortable
experiences after the disease finds its host. Online doctor consulting websites
provide a reliable platform where the user can get doctor’s advice on his
ailment just by entering the symptoms. After detecting the defect, the individual
can gain more information about this disease on Febbrisia.com which will help
him improve the quality of discussion with his doctor. Sometimes, reading about
your diseases also helps in early detection and to stretch it a bit in
prevention. In other cases, it certainly helps you manage your condition
Helps in disease prevention
The opportunity to prevent
diseases is probably the most important benefit of reading about your ailment. Several
articles and blog posts project its content to reveal the prevention and cure. Since
prevention is better than cure, you must target more preventive measures. Online
doctor consulting services only help you with the required medication whereas
you may find certain information related to preventive measures for each
ailment on your own if you read more. Febbrisia offcourse offers curated easy
to understand content which is likely to help you a lot without getting into
medical terms. These write-ups are recommended by qualified professionals of
their respective fields. You can also read about home remedies or alternate
therapies to gain relief from acute ailments. Besides, the knowledge of the
individual gets tremendously enhanced on reading the preventive measure of their
Saves a lot of money
any doubt, reading about your diseases saves you a lot of money. You may wonder
about the principle behind this fact. Preventive measures play a crucial role
in saving your health expenses which by the way spiral up quite fast. Once
you’re acquainted with the preventive measures and healing tips, you’ll face fewer
health hazards. For example, quitting tobacco is the prevention of lung and throat
cancer. Once you bring the tip to effect, you might save a tremendous amount of
money by keeping yourself in a safe spot. However, taking action is one of the
hardest things to do. To motivate you, you’ll get several tips to make a wise
decision. In this way, reading about your ailment saves you a lot of money and
more importantly helps you lead a healthier enjoyable life.
Reading can bring amazing
benefits to all aspects of life including aspects related to health. One must make
the effort to read such articles. We know it’s boring for many and hence, we
have made Febbrisia write-ups 5 minute reads. This is in addition to taking
online doctor consultations and will help you make the most of available
knowledge. Write-ups on such websites are written by recognized professionals. To
gain the benefits, bring the preventive measures to act immediately.
Consulting doctors online
is a brand new way to receive reliable medical services. Besides consulting services,
platforms like Febbrisia contain information about the medicine you consume.
Sometimes, it sounds ignorant to skip reading the description. It is better
that you know the working procedure and its ingredients. In this article, there
are three reasons why you should read about the medicines you consume.
3 REASONS TO READ ABOUT MEDICINES:
TO KNOW ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
The effectiveness of any
medicine depends upon its ingredients and composition. Reading about it not
only enhances your knowledge but also ensures that you are consuming the right
one. For example, the ingredient “Telmisartan” is used to control high blood
pressure. If you’re taking any high BP medications, you’ll probably find the
composition listed on the packet. Moreover, you will know about alternate
medicines that work the same. Knowing about the composition gives you an idea
about the strength of the drug and its probable side effects. It also helps you
understand your medical condition.
TO BE AWARE OF THE PROBABLE
consequence of allopathic medicines is not only instant results but also side effects.
Therefore, before you consume any medicine, you must know about the other side
of the coin. The pharmaceutical company manufacturing the drugs typically lists
a plethora of probable side effects. Patients might experience side effects
like loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, and other uncomfortable experiences.
For example, ointments containing Itraconazole cure fungal infections and might
produce skin irritation at the same. However, knowing the side effects of the
medicine before any uncomfortable experience prepares you mentally and can help
you reduce anxiety about a new condition. Also, note that the side effects of
any medicine are many a times temporary.
TO KNOW ABOUT THE DOSAGE AND
upon your medical condition, your physician prescribes you the required dosage
of any medicine. However, some medicines such as tonics come with a common
prescription. On reading the description of your medicine, you’ll know the
right consumable dosage. For example, Zincovit is a popular multivitamin supplement
with high availability. As described in the package, adults can take one tablet
per day with warm water or milk. However, the dosage for children isn’t revealed,
as the supplement must be taken under prescription. In this way, reading about
your medicines will erase your confusion about their dosage. You will also
learn that all medicines must be stored in a cool and dry place. Sometimes, you
may also find yourself in a situation where the doctor is not available and you
need to take another dose as your condition is worsening. In such cases,
knowing the borderline dosages are critical. This helps you develop an idea on the
limits of safe recommended dosages.
you all might know that incomplete knowledge can prove to be fatal. In the case
of medicines, the proverb might turn true. To avoid any casualty such as an
overdose, you must have correct and full information about the medicines you
consume. Reading about your medication is only to erase confusion, and for the
reasons mentioned above. Before taking any medicine, you must visit or consult
an experienced physician online. In Febbrisia, we have a database of correct
information regarding medications. There is a detailed description of a large
number of medicines that will erase all your confusion on reading. Also, in
Febbrisia, everything in written in short and simple English (no hi-fi medical
terms) to make it even easier for you.
With advancing technology
and a step into the digital world, every task is carried online. Without any
doubt, online consultation has brought great relief to patients seeking medical
care. People residing in urban areas are tremendously following the online
consultation trend. It is because people don’t like to stand in long queues to
get urgent medical care. Visiting a doctor online for chronically ill patients
is a great option to receive an important prescription. In this article, we
have listed some benefits to get a doctor consultation online.
BENEFITS TO GET AN ONLINE DOCTOR CONSULTATION:
IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION:
The most significant
benefit of getting an online doctor consultation is immediate medical
attention. Just like all tasks carried out online, an online doctor
consultation can be booked at light speed. Some competent online doctors are
ready to provide an immediate response to your queries and problem. As soon as
you place your consultation, the recognized doctor gets notified through the
platform. After the notification, the doctor responds to your problem as soon
as possible. However, you must not rely on an online doctor consultation during
an emergency situation or in cases where you need hospital/lab equipment. For instance,
in cases like strokes, heart-related, and trauma, visit your nearby hospital immediately.
Online Consultation, on the other hand, is extremely efficient and cost
effective when it comes to regular consultation or second opinion, or reading
lab reports etc.
One of the primary
benefits to go for an online doctor consultation is better convenience. And
online doctor consultation is independent of the location factor. In simple
words, you can consult your doctor online from anywhere. Moreover, you don’t
need any specific gadget to consult your doctor online. All you need is a
stable internet connection which is a necessity in today’s world. You can
easily place your consultation online by using any mobile laptop or computer.
The transactions are cashless, hassle-free, and are made online. Some online
doctor consultation platforms also have video call features. So, the patient
can be more inclusive and frank to their doctors.
AUTOMATIC RECORD KEEPING
On consulting any doctor
online, you will receive the benefits of an automatic record-keeping service.
After each appointment, your records will be automatically stored on the
database of the platform. At any time, you can download your prescription from
the platform online. Here, Febbrisia comes with an ad on benefit which
competitors rarely offer. Here, the company offers you full privacy and does
not read your data in any form. You also have the option of not sharing it with
the company including with the consulted doctor once your consultation is
complete and prescription is emailed.
Users have access to their
medical database at any time and anywhere. You can also share your records with
other medical professionals such as a specialist whenever necessary. All you
have to do is upload your medical records (if any) on the “Upload” section. This feature makes online consulting more
convenient for users.
Online Consultation is way
cheaper, way friendlier
In addition, there are
more savings associated with online consultation. For instance, on
Febbrisia.com, you can buy an online consultation (with written prescription) for
let’s say Rs100. If you choose this option, you can submit your health problems
to the doctor in let’s say 10 minutes (open 24 by 7, so, literally anytime of the
day or night) and get prescription automatically on email. You can move on with
your work or fun schedule. On the other hand, if you try doing the same thing
offline, you will spend 3x to 5x the amount of money (including travel) and 9x
to 10x the amount of time to achieve similar results. In addition, you would
run the risk of getting infected with something else as you step out and get
into an environment where patients infected with various diseases are sharing
the same physical space with you.
Our opinion: Try online
and you may never be able to leave it!
The era of online doctor
consultation has already begun. Gone were the days where you’d stand in the long
queue to visit your doctor. Now, patients can easily receive prescription
medications and recommendations at the comfort of their homes. Online doctor
consultation makes a huge difference and is safe as all platform registered
doctors are recognized. These social well-bringers are ready to offer you the
best medical service. So, book your doctor and gain all the benefits of online
doctor consultation today!
Knowing about your medicines
is as important as knowing your doctor, as you must know about your dosage and
about potential side effects your medicines may have. To introduce your
medicines to you, Febbrisia develops an information panel that stores huge
medicinal information. Reading about your medicines on Febbrisia.com is simple and
is free from complexities. All you have to do is follow the below-listed steps.
STEPS TO READ ABOUT MEDICINES:
STEP 1: Log in to your
The quest to read
about medicines begins with logging in to your Febbrisia account. All you have
to do is to enter the credentials and press the “Sign in” button. However, if
you are new to Febbrisia.com, sign up with your email ID. After signing up, the
platform sends you a verification email to gain access to the website. As you
complete the formalities, you will get redirected to the homepage of Febbrisia.com.
STEP 2: Searching Your
This step is the most decisive
part of reading your medicine on Febbrisia.com. After you get redirected to the
homepage, look for the Search panel. You can easily find the panel on the
topmost section of the page. To help you identify, there is a picture listed
below that shows the location of the search panel.
On the search panel,
type any medicine you want to know. Assisting you in finding your medicine, the
Febbrisia algorithm suggests it as you type. On popping the right suggestion, click
on it to continue, or type your medicine name and click on “Search.” We’ve selected
the “3 Mix” medicine to illustrate the entire process.
STEP 3: Reading about your
In this step, there aren’t
any physical actions involved. Here, you’ll learn to read about your medicine
to know more. After you hit on the “Search” button, a page that reveals information
about your drug appears.
Sections within the page
reveal information about the medicine. The topmost section displays the
medicine’s rating by users and doctors. In this section, you can see the
popularity of your drug. It also discloses standard packaging measures followed
by manufacturing pharmaceutical companies.
On moving further below,
you can read about the features of the medicine in detail. This section is
mainly a description box disclosing the working procedure of the drug. As you
can see in the picture below, the description box clearly states the features
of the “3 Mix” medicine. This section also displays the overall medicine rating
and allows you to rate for the same.
The next section reveals the recommended dosage of medicine by physicians. The usage section also clearly states the restrictions on taking the dosage. As you can see in the picture below, the 3 Mix medicine isn’t for people with tubercular and viral skin infections.
The next two sections are about the composition and the side effects of the medicine.
Being aware of the necessities of knowing your medicine,
Febbrisia keeps information as the foremost priority. It is the reason why we
placed the search panel on the topmost section of the page. So, know your medicines
on Febbrisia before you consume them.
Besides buying the doctor’s
consultation, it is also important to know how to consult your doctor in Febbrisia
ecosystem. Almost everyone is eager to hear a doctor’s advice about their health
concerns. In Febbrisia, we have an in-house panel of qualified Allopathic,
Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Ayurveda doctors – all of whom are equipped to
give you the right consultation in a very convenient and cost effective fashion.
To consult your doctor on Febbrisia.com, follow the steps given below.
STEPS TO CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR:
Step 1: Visit the official page of Febbrisia:
The first step to consult a trained doctor in Febbrisia is visiting the official website. Start by opening any web browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or UC Browser on your device. You can use any device to consult a qualified doctor at Febbrisia online according to your convenience. In this case, Google Chrome is used as the web browser and a desktop is used to demonstrate the consultation process. On the search panel, type, and click on search tab to visit the official site directly.
Step 2: the Sign in to Febbrisia.com
Followed by the browsing stage, comes the stage of signing in to the Febbrisia website. To perform necessary activities like transactions and consultation, you must have log in to Febbrisia. For that, you must be a user with a registered account. If you don’t have a registered account, enter your email address, user name and password to be a member. However, in case you are an existing user, enter your credentials, and click on ‘Sign in’ to enter. After logging in, you’ll be automatically redirected to the home page of Febbrisia.com.
Step 3: Fill up the Medical Records
This step includes providing valuable information by filling the medical records. At the home page, there is an electronic form to input medical data at the bottom of the page. It consists of data like blood pressure readings, eye vision measurements, weight, height and many more. You must input the data manually and carefully. You are solely responsible for accurately and adequately disclosing your medical information on the form. As a thumb rule, disclose as much as you can so that your doctor can diagnose your disease correctly. Towards the end of this for, you can attach your necessary medical reports (such as blood tests/X rays/Lab reports/Pics in case of skin/hair diseases in the form of images (.jpg, .png, .jpeg)). After entering all data carefully, click on the ‘Save’ button.
Step 4: Consult Your Doctor
It is the fourth and final step to consult your doctor on Febbrisia.com. Above the ‘Medical Records’ form, there is a section to consult and buy your consultation. Click on the “Consult your doctor” on the Doctor Consultation section to proceed. Now, you’ll be directed to another page that allows you to choose the area of expertise you are seeking and to write your problem in detail.
You can select doctors of four niches of Allopathy, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy. After selecting the specialization, write a detailed explanation about your issues in the description box below. Click on the ‘Save’ button after filling the details. The doctor of your selected specialization will send you his prescription on your registered email address after studying your medical reports.
Consulting a doctor
on Febbrisia.com is very simple and is without any complexities. All you have
to do is follow the above-mentioned instructions. For further help, email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp us at 7700074528
Purchasing and booking
online doctor consultations is trending. Gone were the days when you’d stand in
a long queue to book your appointment. With uprising technology and innovation,
comes facilities. Febbrisia allows you to get doctor’s advice in your inbox
effortlessly and cost effectively. All you have to do is log in to your browser
and follow the below-mentioned steps.
STEPS TO BUY A DOCTOR CONSULTATION:
The steps to buying a
doctor consultation in Febbrisia is very easy to follow. For a better
understanding, each step is described in detail below:
STEP 1: SEARCH “FEBBRISIA” ON ANY SEARCH ENGINE:
The procedure to buy
an appointment with your doctor starts by logging in to any search engine. You
can also use any web browser that is compatible with your device. In this article,
“Google” is used to demonstrate the entire booking process. Now, after opening
your web browser, type “Febbrisia” on the search panel. After typing click on
the search button.
STEP 2: CLICK ON THE OFFICIAL PAGE:
next step begins by recognizing the official page, as you can complete your
booking on the official site only. After clicking on the Search option, many
pages get loaded on the web browser. To recognize the official site, search for
the page with the website link. You can also recognize the official site with
the help of the company’s logo. In many cases, the first link is the genuine
one. For better understanding, the official page is highlighted by a red
STEP 3: SELECT YOUR APPOINTMENT AND
CLICK ON BUY”:
After clicking on the official site, a page appears as shown below. Here, you must select your consultation before booking. There are 4 consultation options to choose from. You can choose from 1 to 50 consultation for your ailment. The fee for each booking is Rs. 90 that can be paid online. The pricing is slab wise and so, as you buy more, it becomes even more cost effective. You can also type your ailment/issue on the search panel to get easy recommendations and gain some knowledge about your disease/medicine. Basic queries can get resolved there only.
You can also type your ailment/issue on the search panel to get easy recommendations and gain some knowledge about your disease/medicine. Basic queries can get resolved there only. After selecting the number of consultations, click on the “buy” option. Check your choice before clicking on the “buy” option.
STEP 4: SELECT YOUR MODE OF PAYMENT
after selecting the mode of payment is the final step. After clicking on the
“buy” option, a page appears as shown below. Here, you can choose your payment
mode as per your convenience. For a better convenience, there are seven modes
of payment for your appointment. You can choose to pay from credit cards, debit
cards, net banking, Paytm, Wallet, UPI, or EMI options. Now, all you have to do
is enter your digital credentials to make your payment. After entering the
information, click on the “Make Payment” option below. Then, enter your OTP on
the payment portal to get your payment done.
Once payment is done, you’ll get to see the number of consultations that you have bought on your Febbrisia home screen. In the next blog, I will explain how to consult a doctor. Till then, Good bye and enjoy a healthier life at Febbrisia.com!
Although the Indian winter has become shorter, it has continued to become harsher over the years. The weather has become pleasant in most parts of India, indicating the onset of a few months of bitter cold. People are already using hot water to bathe and some have taken out their woollen wear. Mornings are foggy, and a hot cup of tea or coffee is a welcome start to the day.
Health Tips for Winter
Typically, the cold makes people a little lazier. Getting up in the morning to exercise takes much more will power. As the physical activity reduces and the weather gets cold and try, we become increasingly susceptible to colds, coughs and fever. Here are some health tips to keep you fit during this winter season.
Keep warm: Don’t brave the cold by going out for walks in the late evening without wearing something warm. Cover your feet and neck appropriately, as these are two parts of the body that are most prone to the cold. Get as much sun as possible. Sunshine has vitamin D, which boosts your immunity. Consider taking a short walk after lunch. It does not have to be a brisk walk. Instead, you can stroll and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Avoid drinking cold water and have a nice hot cup of tea, coffee or milk, according to your preference.
Increase your intake of vitamin C: Vitamins, in general, protect you against diseases. Vitamin C in particular will protect you against colds and coughs. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lime, are good sources of Vitamin C.
Exercise: This keeps the body warm, which is essential during winter. You needn’t do vigorous exercises. Climbing merely one flight of stairs or doing just ten pull-ups in the morning will be enough.
Manage stress: Stress impacts your immune system and can make you more susceptible to illness. One way to do this is to get adequate sleep.
Manage dryness: In many parts of India, winters are very dry. With falling temperatures, humidity dips and the dryness can cause skin and respiratory problems. Keep your skin in proper condition with a good moisturizer. Use a humidifier when indoors to prevent respiratory illnesses. Keep your body hydrated with adequate intake of water.
Most places in India do not have very harsh winters, however, there are exceptions where winter is severe and one need to take utmost care to prevent against ailments. Following these simple to-dos can reduce the chances of falling ill during winter. Enjoy the winter with complete health and well-being.
Since first appearing in late 2019, the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, has had a range of impacts on those it infects. Some people become severely ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and require hospitalization, whereas others have mild symptoms or are even asymptomatic.
There are several factors that influence a person’s susceptibility to having a severe reaction, such as their age and the existence of other medical conditions. But one’s genetics also plays a role, and, over the last few months, research by the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative has shown that genetic variants in one region on chromosome 3 impose a larger risk that their carriers will develop a severe form of the disease.
Now, a new study, published in Nature, has revealed that this genetic region is almost identical to that of a 50,000-year old Neanderthal from southern Europe. Further analysis has shown that, through interbreeding, the variants came over to the ancestors of modern humans about 60,000 years ago.
“It is striking that the genetic heritage from Neanderthals has such tragic consequences during the current pandemic,” said Professor Svante Pääbo, who leads the Human Evolutionary Genomics Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST).
Is severe COVID-19 written in our genes?
Chromosomes are tiny structures that are found in the nucleus of cells and carry an organism’s genetic material. They come in pairs with one chromosome in each pair inherited from each parent. Humans have 23 of these pairs. Thus, 46 chromosomes carry the entirety of our DNA — millions upon millions of base pairs. And although the vast majority are the same between people, mutations do occur, and variations persist, at the DNA level.
The research by the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative looked at over 3,000 people including both people who were hospitalized with severe COVID-19 and people who were infected by the virus but weren’t hospitalized. It identified a region on chromosome 3 that influences whether a person infected with the virus will become severely ill and needs to be hospitalized.
The identified genetic region is very long, spanning 49.4 thousand base pairs, and the variants that impose a higher risk to severe COVID-19 are strongly linked — if a person has one of the variants then they’re very likely to have all thirteen of them. Variants like these have previously been found to come from Neanderthals or Denisovans so Professor Pääbo, in collaboration with Professor Hugo Zeberg, first author of the paper and a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Karolinska Institutet, decided to investigate whether this was the case.
They found that a Neanderthal from southern Europe carried an almost identical genetic region whereas two Neanderthals from southern Siberia and a Denisovan did not.
Next, they questioned whether the variants had come over from Neanderthals or had been inherited by both Neanderthals and present-day people through a common ancestor.
If the variants had come from interbreeding between the two groups of people, then this would have occurred as recently as 50,000 years ago. Whereas, if the variants had come from the last common ancestor, they would have been around in modern humans for about 550,000 years. But random genetic mutations, and recombination between chromosomes, would have also occurred during this time and because the variants between the Neanderthal from southern Europe and present-day people are so similar over such a long stretch of DNA, the researchers showed that it was much more likely that they came from interbreeding.
Professor Pääbo and Professor Zeberg concluded that Neanderthals related to the one from southern Europe contributed this DNA region to present-day people around 60,000 years ago when the two groups met.
Neanderthal variants pose up to three times the risk
Professor Zeberg explained that those who carry these Neanderthal variants have up to three times the risk of requiring mechanical ventilation. “Obviously, factors such as your age and other diseases you may have also affect how severely you are affected by the virus. But among genetic factors, this is the strongest one.”
The researchers also found that there are major differences in how common these variants are in different parts of the world. In South Asia about 50% of the population carry them. However, in East Asia they’re almost absent.
It is not yet known why the Neanderthal gene region is associated with increased risk of becoming severely ill. “This is something that we and others are now investigating as quickly as possible,” said Professor Pääbo.
Source: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Mental health professionals say that there is an universal increase in anxiety due to the Coronavirus pandemic and it is understandable that the pandemic would stress out individuals in Goa and other states.
As Covid-19 cases continue to increase at a rapid pace, a month-long study conducted by Sangath which started in June, found that stress and depression are also being reported. Significantly, fear about family members contracting the virus has emerged as a bigger worry compared to the fear of suffering from Covid-19.
“The study will run during and post the pandemic to capture short and long term mental health and social outcomes. We will repeat assessments at 3,6,9,12 months post pandemic too,” said Urvita Bhatia, Research Fellow, Sangath.
Between June 11 and July 10, Sangath’s addictions research group, through a survey, reached out to around 673 individuals in Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi. Most respondents are from Goa and Delhi, and are in the 18 to 40 years age bracket.
Though the study and its results are in the preliminary stage, the researchers noted that 83% of the respondents reported feeling moderate to high levels of stress, and almost 30% reported symptoms associated with depression.
Though 98% of the respondents reported that they are Covid-19 free, 38% of them said that they are worried about family members contracting Covid-19. Much to the surprise of the researchers, fear of being infected and dying due is the least cause of anxiety, with financial burden being a larger worry.
The survey showed that 23% of the respondents were worried about infecting others but only 9% were worried about dying from Covid.
“Respondents report feeling least in control of their physical and mental health, and their future plans. They reported the greatest feelings of control over their relationships with their partners and families,” Sangath said in the preliminary results.
Of the respondents, 54% found that their life is significantly different with just 3% saying that they see no difference.
It begins with a mild fever and malaise, followed by a painful cough and shortness of breath. The infection prospers in crowds, spreading to people in close reach. Containing an outbreak requires contact tracing, as well as isolation and treatment of the sick for weeks or months.
This insidious disease has touched every part of the globe. It is tuberculosis, the biggest infectious-disease killer worldwide, claiming 1.5 million lives each year
Until this year, TB and its deadly allies, HIV and malaria, were on the run. The toll from each disease over the previous decade was at its nadir in 2018, the last year for which data are available.
Yet now, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world, consuming global health resources, these perennially neglected adversaries are making a comeback.
“Covid-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Dr Pedro L. Alonso, the director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program.
It’s not just that the coronavirus has diverted scientific attention from TB, HIV and malaria. The lockdowns, particularly across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, have raised insurmountable barriers to patients who must travel to obtain diagnoses or drugs, according to interviews with more than two dozen public health officials, doctors and patients worldwide.
Fear of the coronavirus and the shuttering of clinics have kept away many patients struggling with HIV, TB and malaria, while restrictions on air and sea travel have severely limited delivery of medications to the hardest-hit regions.
About 80% of tuberculosis, HIV and malaria programs worldwide have reported disruptions in services, and 1 in 4 people living with HIV have reported problems with gaining access to medications, according to U.N. AIDS. Interruptions or delays in treatment may lead to drug resistance, already a formidable problem in many countries.
In India, home to about 27% of the world’s TB cases, diagnoses have dropped by nearly 75% since the pandemic began. In Russia, HIV clinics have been repurposed for coronavirus testing.
Malaria season has begun in West Africa, which has 90% of malaria deaths in the world, but the normal strategies for prevention — distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and spraying with pesticides — have been curtailed because of lockdowns.
According to one estimate, a three-month lockdown across different parts of the world and a gradual return to normal over 10 months could result in an additional 6.3 million cases of tuberculosis and 1.4 million deaths from it.
A six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy may lead to more than 500,000 additional deaths from illnesses related to HIV, according to the WHO. Another model by the WHO predicted that in the worst-case scenario, deaths from malaria could double to 770,000 per year.
Several public health experts, some close to tears, warned that if the current trends continue, the coronavirus is likely to set back years, perhaps decades, of painstaking progress against TB, HIV and malaria.
The Global Fund, a public-private partnership to fight these diseases, estimates that mitigating this damage will require at least $28.5 billion, a sum that is unlikely to materialize.
If history is any guide, the coronavirus’s impact on the poor will be felt long after the pandemic is over. The socioeconomic crisis in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, for example, led to the highest rates in the world of a kind of TB that was resistant to multiple drugs, a dubious distinction the region holds even today.
The starting point in this ruinous chain of events is a failure to diagnose: The longer a person goes undiagnosed, and the later treatment begins, the more likely an infectious disease is to spread, sicken and kill.
“The more you leave undiagnosed and untreated, the more you will have next year and the year after,” said Dr Lucica Ditiu, who heads the Stop TB Partnership, an international consortium of 1,700 groups fighting the disease.
The infrastructure built to diagnose HIV and TB has been a boon for many countries grappling with the coronavirus. GeneXpert, the tool used to detect genetic material from the TB bacteria and from HIV, can also amplify RNA from the coronavirus for diagnosis.
But now most clinics are using the machines only to look for the coronavirus. Prioritizing the coronavirus over TB is “very stupid from a public health perspective,” Ditiu said. “You should actually be smart and do both.”
In country after country, the pandemic has resulted in sharp drops in diagnoses of TB: a 70% decline in Indonesia, 50% in Mozambique and South Africa, and 20% in China, according to the WHO.
In late May in Mexico, as coronavirus infections climbed, TB diagnoses recorded by the government fell to 263 cases from 1,097 the same week last year.
The pandemic is also shrinking the supply of diagnostic tests for these killers as companies turn to making more expensive tests to detect the coronavirus. Cepheid, the California-based manufacturer of TB diagnostic tests, has pivoted to making tests for the coronavirus. Companies that make diagnostic tests for malaria are doing the same, according to Dr Catharina Boehme, the chief executive of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.
Coronavirus tests are much more lucrative, at about $10, compared with 18 cents for a rapid malaria test.
These companies “have tremendous demand for Covid right now,” said Dr Madhukar Pai, the director of the McGill International TB Centre in Montreal. “I can’t imagine diseases of poverty getting any attention in this space.”
The pandemic has hindered the availability of drugs for HIV, TB and malaria worldwide by interrupting supply chains, diverting manufacturing capacity and imposing physical barriers for patients who must travel to distant clinics to pick up the medications.
And these shortages are forcing some patients to ration their medications, endangering their health. In Indonesia, the official policy is to provide a month’s supply of drugs at a time to HIV patients, but antiretroviral therapy has lately been hard to come by outside Jakarta.
People with HIV and TB who skip medication are likely to get sicker in the short term. In the long term, there’s an even more worrisome consequence: a rise in drug-resistant forms of these diseases. Already drug-resistant TB is such a threat that patients are closely monitored during treatment — a practice that has mostly been suspended during the pandemic.
According to the WHO, at least 121 countries have reported a drop in TB patients visiting clinics since the pandemic began, threatening hard-fought gains.
“This is really difficult to digest,” Ditiu said. “It took a lot of work to arrive where we are. We were not at the peak of the mountain, but we were away from the base. But then an avalanche came and pushed us back to the bottom.”
The lockdowns in many places were imposed so swiftly that drug stocks were rapidly depleted.
Even if governments are prepared, with some help from big aid agencies, to buy drugs months in advance, the global supply may soon run out.
“The disruption of supply chains is really something that worries me — for HIV, for TB, for malaria,” said Dr Carlos del Rio, chair of the scientific advisory board of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The hype over chloroquine as a potential treatment for the coronavirus has led to hoarding of the drug in some countries like Myanmar, depleting its global stocks.
“We’re very dependent on a few key developers or manufacturers for all of the drugs around the world, and that needs to be diversified,” said Dr Meg Doherty, who directs HIV programs at the WHO. “If you had more locally developed drug depots or drug manufacturers, it would be closer to the point of need.”
Aid organizations and governments are trying to mitigate some of the damage by stretching supplies and stockpiling medications. In June, the WHO changed its recommendation for treatment of drug-resistant TB. Instead of 20 months of injections, patients may now take pills for nine to 11 months. The change means patients don’t have to travel to clinics, increasingly closed by lockdowns.
In a few nations, like South Africa, most patients already pick up medications from community centers rather than from hospitals, said Dr Salim S. Abdool Karim, a global health expert in South Africa and the chair of a government advisory committee on Covid-19. “That has been an important advantage in a way.”