The aim of this collection is to ensure immediate access to systematic reviews most directly relevant to remote health care through telehealth. The measures adopted internationally to curb the spread of COVID-19 have led to significant changes in how health care is accessed and provided. As face-to-face consultations between healthcare workers and patients pose a potential risk to both parties, remote care and telehealth offer alternatives.
Well before the impacts of the 2020 pandemic, large numbers of lower income Australian households were struggling to find affordable housing and there were long wait lists for social housing. AHURI research estimated that in 2016, there was a shortfall of around 431,000 social housing dwellings, and that this deficit would grow to 727,300 dwellings by 2036. The research concluded that 36,000 new social housing dwellings per year were required to meet this need.
With high unemployment and increased incidence of homelessness a likely outcome of the economic downturn, new social housing will be essential to ensure housing outcomes do not worsen. Industry and community organisations and peak bodies are calling for a social housing building program as part of the economic stimulus response. For example, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), in a recent report, proposes building 30,000 social housing dwellings as a way to reduce homelessness and to boost employment.
The mental health effects of COVID-19 on the general population might be profound and long-lasting, and deserve serious attention; but they cannot be the exclusive focus of conversation. Those who wish to build fairer societies and health systems after the pandemic ends must learn about and prioritise the needs of people living with severe mental illness as a matter of urgency.
The Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK has released a report based on IPPR/YouGov polling of healthcare workers called Care Fit for Carers.
It shows high degrees of dissatisfaction with the UK government’s response, and that many health care workers are considering leaving their professions .
The report also raises the prospect of the longer term-impacts on health care workers, which are likely to include physical health impacts, as well as PTSD and other mental health conditions. These impacts are not abstract and hypothetical, as shown in a BBC article on the impacts of SARS ten years after the 2003 outbreak:
Bruce England was a paramedic on duty in Toronto during the early days of the Sars outbreak and, having attended a patient with a chest infection, found himself falling ill.
For him, and many others affected by the Sars outbreak in Toronto, the effects of that experience are still being felt today. Ten years on Bruce still experiences weakness and difficulty with his breathing.
“I had Sars. It’s left a lasting impact on me and my life. So did I survive it? Maybe not, it’s still there for me,” he says.
An important from David Gunnell and colleagues in Lancet Psychiatry:
These are unprecedented times. The pandemic will cause distress and leave many people vulnerable to mental health problems and suicidal behaviour. Mental health consequences are likely to be present for longer and peak later than the actual pandemic.
I was wondering about the Australia 2020 Summit tonight, prompted by seeing former Prime Minister Rudd on television talking about the Ruby Princess. For those who don’t remember, it was a sort of festival of ideas convened by the still-new Gillard-Rudd government in 2008. It was supposed to shape a long-term strategy for Australia’s future, one that was sadly never realised.
If I’m honest I imagined that the report would be full of naïve assumptions and misguided aspirations (much like Mr Rudd’s comments this evening). The horrors of the summer bushfires and the global COVID-19 pandemic mean we’re living in a world I didn’t imagine even a year ago, even though I’ve been worried about climate change, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity for a while. It must have been inconceivable twelve years ago.
Instead I was surprised by how many of the ideas remain relevant and, by and large, unaddressed. The topics in the table of contents should be part of any long-term strategy we’d develop today, albeit with much greater urgency about climate change.
There are even some of my pet topics in the report, like health impact assessments, which I’d entirely forgotten.
I won’t attempt to summarise the report. It’s 399 pages, and quite densely packed with ideas. It’s definitely worth reading if you have a chance.
Mostly, I’m left with a sense of sadness about how we’ve wasted the last twelve years. I hope the crisis we face due to COVID-19 forces us to reconsider our direction as a society, and the renewed urgency for a long-term strategy for Australia’s future.
Some worrying parallels between Italy and Australia’s health system challenges, as outlined in this commentary in The Lancet:
There are lessons to be learned from the current COVID-19 pandemic. First, the Italian decentralisation and fragmentation of health services seems to have restricted timely interventions and effectiveness, and stronger national coordination should be in place. Second, health-care systems capacity and financing need to be more flexible to take into account exceptional emergencies. Third, in response to emergencies, solid partnerships between the private and public sector should be institutionalised. Finally, recruitment of human resources must be planned and financed with a long-term vision.
Here’s how it works in practice. On Wednesday March 18, the Australian government announced a $715 million rescue package for the nation’s stricken aviation sector. Qantas management, grateful for the assistance, immediately sacked 20,000 workers
— Read on meanjin.com.au/blog/bastard-pandemic-v-bastards/