Imagine, for a second, that you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, have a family history of heart disease, or have long battled with asthma. Unfortunately, most of you won't have to imagine this; according to the World Health Organization, over two billion people worldwide live with one of these chronic health conditions, so likely you or a close family member are afflicted. Treating these conditions requires frequent doctor visits and physical checks, both in and out of the clinic. Careful health maintenance and preventive care can lead to a happy and long life but is a lifelong burden on the patient and the doctor. Without it, however, these conditions can be deadly.
Why do they become deadly? The key problem, even in developed, rich countries, is access to continuous care; this can happen in a variety of ways, from inequitable healthcare systems, lack of trained professionals, distance from hospitals, lack of access to data, or patient non-adherence. These problems are now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has overloaded hospital systems and reduced health infrastructure's ability to prioritize preventive care. The bitter pill here is that preventive care is the best way to reduce this load long term, but it is just not feasible with available resources and exhausted clinicians.
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