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News Article

Non-COVID-19 Treatments, How Are They Progressing?

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 08/25/2020 - 13:49

Healthcare services affectations during the pandemic go beyond COVID-19 cases. A study made by Konfio estimates that specialized doctors can see income losses of around 22 percent this year. Similarly, specialized medical devices providers can see drops of 32 percent in sales of odontology, nutrition, and ophthalmology products just in 1Q20.

Hospital Juárez de México is the national reference for ophthalmology treatments. However, the hospital is currently shifting its focus to fight the pandemic. “Hospital Juárez de México has been completely reconverted into a COVID-19 hospital. Our ophthalmological services have been interrupted temporarily, so we are concerned about our patients,” told Virgilio Lima, Head of the Ophthalmology Service, to MBN. Hospital Juárez de México treats people above 60 years old who suffer from diabetes and hypertension, which makes them highly vulnerable to the virus and therefore unable to go to the hospital. “Long wait times for patents that suffer from cataracts can be fatal and such is the case for diabetic retinopathy patients, because the disease develops to cause further damage.”

At the beginning of this month, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne warned about the risks of interrupting regular healthcare services due to COVID-19. ”More than a quarter of countries have suspended routine vaccination campaigns. Weeks or months of disruption will increase the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, reversing our longstanding trends in the region,” said Etienne. She urged countries to adapt to the new normality to continue with service provision by reengineering how essential care is delivered and investing in first-level care. “The use of telemedicine, home visits and community outreach programs to support vulnerable populations is paramount,” he said.

Not only hospitals have had to adapt to this new situation. Uncommon disease pharmaceutical BioMarin has also had to evolve to keep delivering treatments to patients that cannot wait for their medicines. “We established agreements with the government to enable some patients to receive their therapies at home or to receive them at private centers that do not treat COVID-19 patients,” said David López, Country Manager of BioMarin, during an interview with MBN.

There are also many examples of production companies dedicated to other services that had to respond to the pandemic and temporarily adapt their production lines to remain in business. Such is the case of Mexican engineering company, Arroba Ingeniería, which develops and manufactures incubator and neonatal medical devices. “As a result of the pandemic, we had to reconfigure our production. Right now, we are focusing on designing products for the pandemic, such as transfer capsules, and are also collaborating in the development of three Mexican ventilators,” told Juan Dovarganes, CEO of Arroba Ingeniería, to MBN.

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Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst