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Health CareHow COVID-19 Disproportionately Impacts People with Chronic Conditions in India | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors

How COVID-19 Disproportionately Impacts People with Chronic Conditions in India | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors

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The study is the product of collaboration with a group of scholars including Eggleston’s long-time research partners Dorairaj Prabhakaran of the Centre for Chronic Disease Control and Public Health Foundation of India, M. Venkat Narayan of Emory University, Kavita Singh of the Public Health Foundation of India, and Nikhil Tandon of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. They have been working with Eggleston on issues related to broader research on innovation for healthy aging in Asia and net value in diabetes management.

In the current research, Eggleston and her collaborators studied adult participants with one or more chronic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or chronic kidney disease) from two large existing cohorts — the Centre for Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia, CARRS, and the India-UDAY comprehensive program of diabetes and hypertension prevention and management — in four sites (Delhi, Chennai, Haryana, and Vizag). The strength of the research lies in its empirical mixed-methods study design, which combines a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews, and its focus on people with chronic conditions from both urban and rural populations. It is the first such study from a populous country like India.

“We thought we could try to provide some insight for policymakers, caregivers, and others by looking at these same individuals that we already know something about,” says Eggleston, “so that we could follow up and see how the pandemic was impacting them.”

— Watch AHPP webinars featuring speakers including the study’s co-authors —

Collage of video thumbnails from the Asia Health Policy Program's webinars

Adverse Health Impacts

The results show that COVID-19-related restrictions implemented to control the pandemic had unforeseen adverse impacts on the health status, access to treatment, and achievement of care goals among people with chronic conditions in India. People with diabetes and hypertension were worst affected due to their difficulty in accessing health care and experienced worsening symptoms during the lockdowns, which might lead to poor health outcomes and avoidable micro- and macrovascular complications.

“Unsurprisingly but importantly,” notes Eggleston, “the most vulnerable are the ones who are suffering the most.” The researchers found that rural participants disproportionately experienced acute medical illnesses, difficulties in accessing healthcare, relatively less availability of functioning health facilities, poor treatment satisfaction, and reduced fruit and vegetable consumption.

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