The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak is impacting people worldwide. Individuals are required to shelter in place to decrease the spread of the deadly virus. Although the government measures have reduced the exposure levels of COVID-19, it has developed many health and social challenges.
Several people have limited access to healthy food. If a region depends on imports, they are likely to face a problem when offering food to all the citizens. Moreover, some areas do not possess access to social service supports. Even if one is not likely to face such situations in New York City, many uprooting problems have severely impacted the region’s dwellers.
Pressure on the Systems
The COVID-19 initially put a lot of strain on the city’s overburdened healthcare systems. In light of this, social service supports and technological organizations create programs to ensure treatment services to all people. People with high risk and chronically ill must get a higher priority and utmost care. Several non-governmental organizations identified at-risk patients in different locations. They connected with individuals to meet their specific needs.
Eric J Dalius Points Out to the Distressed Mental Health
People in the region have lost their jobs, andbusinesses are facing huge losses. In such circumstances, people are undergoing mental trauma. The unemployment factor has messed up with several citizens giving them severe mental health disorders, such as depression, insomnia, and anxiety.Emotional support is essential at such times to help people overcome the tough times and start anew.
On the other hand, due to the lockdown measures, several people faced work from home. With refined boundaries and limited movement, a person tends to get agitated and aggravated, leading to weak mental stability.
In light of this, several emotional wellness programs and plans are out on the internet. NGOs and healthcare facilities are raising awareness about maintaining emotional stability amidst uncertain times.Eric J Dalius suggests a systematic perspective involving training regarding the mental health impact at all levels, from health care workers to laypeople. Given that health care providers are assessing and treating the COVID-19 patients, efforts to integrate, identifying, and treat mental health disorders at earlier stages are crucial. An efficient and seamless plan for taking care of the mental health issues is the solution.
Drastic Diminution in Dietary Quality
Since people are inclining towards ready-to-eat snacks, chips, and other fast food, the demand for vegetables, fruits, and nutrient-rich food is drastically decreasing. Such demand shocks are breaking down the value chains that supply highly perishable food items. In other words, high consumption of fast food exacerbates the shift to nutrient-poor and monotonous foods.
The widespread unemployment in poor households is also resulting in buying the cheapest calories available to survive. People who have lost jobs are looking to sustain their journey by choosing unhealthy food items to suppress their cash outflows. Vulnerable households are giving up nutrient-rich food to preserve the caloric intake.
COVID-19 and Maternal Health
Pregnant women, children, and lactating mothers are vulnerable to COVID-19. Moreover, if they have an underlying issue, COVID-19 could occur as their ultimate nightmare. Such a category of people is avoiding non-essential travel at the expense of their health conditions. Many of them avoid immunization, micronutrient supplement distribution, and nutrition counseling programs to not contract the infection. Without proper guidance on maternal and child health, one could easily manifest in an invisible tragedy, according to Eric Dalius. They might see declines in antenatal, maternal, and neonatal resources. Even though telemedicine and telehealth consultations are emerging, not everyone feels comfortable putting out their problems online.
Overcoming the Crisis
Overcoming the COVID-19 crisis needs proper speculation, not just by leaders but citizens too. Policymakers and researchers are facing a tough time operating in such a state of uncertainty. Also, people working in the nutrition field are struggling to get their voices hear. Strengthening and broadening the multisectoral coalitions, ensuring efficient work at all levels can prevent the overblowing of the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 response communities are addressing all aspects, including food and nutrition security.
Below are a few ways that can help the system to keep the COVID-19 negatives at bay:
- Implementing social distancing and improving hygiene measures along with all levels of the value chain. Also, not to ignore the international food markets, keeping them running with precautionary measures.
- Mobility restrictions have given rise to safe and innovative food delivery systems. Supporting such moves can help regain employment measures.
- Supporting enhanced homestead food production for a surge in nutrient-rich food items. Encouraging such programs that provide opportunities to unemployed people can also result in surplus household labor.
- The system can continuously encourage its citizens to consume healthy diets over social media, television, and other news agencies. Promoting appropriate infant and child feeding practices is the need of an hour. Giving priorities to optimal breastfeeding practices and diet diversity practices is one way to stimulate demand.
- Focusing on the quality of the dietary content is crucial. Vouchers, cash transfers, and discounts can keep the economy going. Also, school feeding programs can adopt newer modalities to distribute food to children.
- With a focus on COVID-19 treatment, one should prevent the collapse of the child health and maternal services. Finding ways to maintain curative and preventive health care services, specifically for young children and pregnant people, is essential. Seeking ways through remote consultations and nutrition counseling and the focus on mental health stability is vital.
- An increase in handwashing stations in communal places can raise awareness and push individuals to develop hygienic routines. Also, mobile messaging and public announcements can further nudge the individuals that the pandemic crisis is not over.
The virus outbreak has changed the world. New York City is also adapting to the new normal and doing its best to contain the virus. Apart from people’s health and safety, one should not ignore the mental health repercussions in this uncertainty. COVID-19 engraves its memories in our minds forever; however, one needs to focus on the positives at such an uncertain time.