Businesses concerned with public health have been struggling over the past year. The sudden outbreak of the global pandemic severely disrupted daily operations and forced drastic transitions upon the entire healthcare system.
The global health crisis also highlighted the gaps needed to be filled when it came to public health. It magnified the relevance of healthcare when it came to social issues as well. As vaccine rollout programs continue throughout the country, the months ahead are expected to be extremely transformative for businesses in public health.
Now is the perfect time to rebuild the country’s public health infrastructure, especially as more underlying problems were brought to light. While it was a challenging year for the health sector in general, there is still a long way to go for reforms to be realized.
Addressing Urgent Issues
Among those that suffered the most were emergency medical services (EMS), who placed themselves at the tip of the spear when the pandemic was at its height. Over the course of the year, EMS personnel slowly experienced an immense income gap as government restrictions like lockdowns and shelter-in-place measures prevailed.
The EMS sector, like any other public health sector, is also a business in itself. To adapt, certain agencies transitioned to offering mobile integrated healthcare and community paramedicine to mitigate mass furloughs for their staff. Similar health-related businesses should also attempt to divert their services elsewhere, particularly where it’s needed the most.
This kind of adaptation is vital for the public health system to maintain its resilience and integrity during these trying times. Aside from the pandemic, other public health issues were prevalent throughout the year and just as devastating. Other businesses in public health should consider redirecting their efforts to address them, whether short-term or long-term.
Issues surrounding mental health have slowly been gaining traction over the years. The circumstances of the previous year, like social isolation, accelerated the demand for these issues to be addressed. Approximately one-third of Americans suffered from clinical anxiety and depression as of May 2020.
In June, at least 40% of adults experienced adverse mental health conditions, while 75% of young adults reported having at least one mental or behavioral health symptom. These figures presented a substantial increase from pre-pandemic numbers. Mental health experts have expressed growing concerns, especially as remote work arrangements and distance learning are expected to persist even after the pandemic.
Fatality rates from drug overdoses started to decrease for the first time in 2018, based on reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, fatal drug overdoses saw a record-high over the previous year, easily upending previous efforts that have been made to address drug concerns.
The figures for drug overdoses are increasing and accelerating even in the midst of a global pandemic. Overdoses rose by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May compared to data from the same time frames in 2019. Observations have suggested that these trends will most likely continue into 2021, which is alarming for the public health sector.
The general health sector was tasked to shift its priorities in addressing the global health crisis, and understandably so. However, this could also lead to thwart years of progress on other infectious diseases that are considered preventable.
Most countries were forced to pause other immunization programs as lockdowns were implemented. Childhood immunization, in particular, suffered a massive decline causing diseases like measles and diphtheria to surge. Likewise, health experts have said that prior efforts that have been made to combat tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV, could all be at risk.
Office and commercial buildings were forced to close down at the height of the global pandemic as most daily operations transitioned into the online realm. Certain companies have begun preparations for returning to the workplace, but health experts are wary of the consequences.
Many buildings have not been maintained since closing down, leaving a high chance of accumulating harmful bacteria. Legionnaire’s disease, for instance, is a waterborne infection that can be caused by Legionella bacteria present in the water systems of dormant buildings. The CDC has since shared guidelines to mitigate these threats, but health businesses should also consider offering their services.
Rebuilding Better Systems
The future of public health will be defined by how businesses in the sector choose to act at this part of the rebuilding process. Over the previous year, safeguarding the health of the public has become predominant. Moreover, government reforms are also relevant and critical to address the lack of health infrastructures and the elimination of social inequalities in public health.
Allocating business operations concerned with public health is just one of the many avenues to take in more resilient health systems. Nonetheless, the fact that the public health sector is in dire need of impactful changes holds true.