2020 was a year of disruptions as the pandemic wreaked havoc on every sector of our lives. A deadly virus raced around the world and exposed the inadequacies of the public health care systems. The pandemic set back global health progress by a lot. While vaccines rolled out earlier this year, the battle is still half won. Just a few months into 2021, countries are trying to repair and reinforce health systems to address emerging problems. It might be an uphill battle, but they can eventually win it by focusing on primary issues. Following are the nine best public health practices for 2021. These practices are for individuals, communities, and global and regional organizations.
1. Consult A Public Health Professional
Public healthcare systems suffered devastating disruptions in the initial days of the covid-19 crisis. And issues, such as the opioid crisis and global food crisis, came on the back burner. As the dust settles, governments must shift focus on these issues. Public health leaders with relevant qualifications can support vulnerable communities in crises. Therefore, individuals must consult public health experts to help them avert the problems and maintain wellness. Owing to the rising need for such degrees, education facilities have also encouraged healthcare specialists to get an online master of public health degree to boost their capabilities.
2. Improve Global Preparedness For Health Emergencies
Countries often worked individually on the matter without realizing that no one is safe until every person is safe. Therefore, vulnerable communities and poor-income states suffered the most. Lack of coordination increased ethnocentrism as nations restricted access to medications. Affluent nations began to hoard vaccines and bought more doses than they needed, leaving other countries in trouble. States will have to leverage existing partnerships and create new ones to standardize public health assistance. The WHO is trying to establish a Biobank to share pathogen materials for the rapid development of medicines.
3. Speed Up Vaccine Rollout
Vaccine deployment for most western countries began in March 2021. Now, more than 50 percent of Americans are vaccinated. While South Asian countries like India and Pakistan are still struggling to counter vaccination shortages. However, nations have to speed up vaccinations to end the acute phase of the pandemic. Fortunately, several global public health organizations offer invaluable support by distributing vaccines, treatments and strengthening health systems in vulnerable countries. Scientists and pharma companies have to work in tandem to roll out affordable vaccines soon.
4. Tackle Health Inequities
The pandemic highlighted the deep disparities between and within countries. Unfortunately, the gap is widening because of the ongoing situation. Therefore, communities have to focus on health services and address the determinants of health. They have to provide affordable healthcare for at-risk populations. Public health organizations need support from other sectors to address factors affecting healthcare.
5. A Women-Centric Approach
Countries with women leaders performed better during the pandemic. Accordingly, diverse public health bodies effectively shape governance and healthcare. Female public health leaders can understand and manage issues that disproportionately affect them. 2021 is the time to reinvest in the female workforce and reap the benefits.
6. Refocus On Non-Communicable Diseases
In 2019, non-communicable illnesses were seven of the ten most deadly diseases. Furthermore, the pandemic disproportionately affected people suffering from chronic problems. Therefore, it is vital to screen and treat patients suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. One of the best practices is for healthcare systems to focus on preventing chronic illnesses in 2021.
7. The Mental Health Crisis
More than half of the global population suffers from anxiety and depression. In 2020, the situation took a turn for the worse. Disease, unrest, and uncertainty are all detrimental to mental health. Furthermore, isolation is dangerous for patients suffering from mental health diseases. So, public health in 2021 should focus majorly on psychological illnesses.
8. Clampdown On Fake News
Misinformation during the initial days of the pandemic created an ‘infodemic.’ People were overwhelmed by the abundance of data. However, not all of the information was accurate. In a digitalized world, news can spread at the click of a button. For example, even after public health officials announced the vaccines, several people avoided them because of fear and mistrust. Public healthcare in 2021 will have to wage a battle against fake news. They must manage the infodemic to prevent deadly consequences.
9. Reinvest Into Science And Data
Public health organizations need evidence-based recommendations from clinical trials to improve treatment options. Several countries struggled during the pandemic as they did not have the infrastructure to develop and test vaccinations. In 2021, these groups will have to increase capacity and improve information systems.
Millions of people died in 2020 because of the pandemic. While it was tragic, the pandemic also shed light on the human spirit. Fortunately, things are on the rise. Several countries have started vaccinations and are rebuilding public health sectors. While progress is slow, experts are optimistic. Hopefully, 2021 will see countries working in solidarity to combat evolving public health crises.