Disfavored population was disproportionately affected by pandemic, study

The number of persons from vulnerable groups who consider their state of health is bad and very bad is three times higher compared with the general population, shows a study carried out by Keystone Moldova. These people face serious health problems, said Keystone director Ludmila Malcoci, author of the study, IPN reports.

Despite the pandemic restrictions, most of the respondents had access to primary medical services. The number of persons who used the services of the family doctor is higher among persons with disabilities, with chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, and among beneficiaries of palliative care services against the general population. This is due to the fact that these people needed to more often go to the family doctor, including for being issued with prescriptions for compensated medicines. The use of specialized medical services was yet problematic. Owing to the fear of infection with the novel coronavirus, movement difficulties and restricted appointment scheduling, many had to put off visits to specialists. Due to these delays, each second person from the aforementioned groups said their state of health worsened.

Over 70% of the persons with disabilities and more than 80% of the persons with chronic diseases or persons involved in palliative care programs said they need to travel to a larger locality, to the district center or even to Chisinau for benefitting from diagnostic services. Half of them said the information about medical services they need is not comprehensible to everyone. Over 70% of these persons said the costs of medical services they need are not sufficiently covered by health insurance. The number of vulnerable persons whose financial resources are not enough for bare essentials is much higher than in the case of the general population. The poor persons and the older persons do not have access to COVID-19 protective equipment.

Galina Climov, executive director of the Alliance of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities, said the access to health services has worsened primarily because infrastructure and transport services are not ensured. In Chisinau, the public transport is partially adjusted to the needs of different persons. The same cannot be said about the units of transport running on interurban routes.

Petru Culeac, executive director of Soros Foundation Moldova, with whose support the study was conducted, noted that the research shows the disadvantaged population or the vulnerable categories of people were disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the effects are worrisome. It goes to the new barriers to accessing medical services or care services. Financial effects were also seen. The people of these social groups became poorer and more mental health problems appeared. These conclusions should be used by the authorities to carry out a comprehensive analysis.

The study covered a sample of 1,805 respondents, including 1,205 general population members, 20 persons with disabilities, 200 persons with diabetes mellitus and 200 persons under palliative care.

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