Importance of a Multidisciplinary Approach During the Coronavirus Outbreak

By Sabine Silien Charles MD, DrPH

 As the Greek philosopher, Aristotle once stated: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For an individual to be healthy, many factors played a role such as socio-economic status, education, environment, and politics. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted everything, health, education, politics... Politicians understand that without the essential workers, it would be difficult to respond to this new public health issue. Information given to the public has never been so crucial because misinformation can lead to devastating results; with the wide and rapid spread of information via social media today, containing information has never been so difficult.

Everything that leaders said must be carefully thought to avoid the potential harm of misinformation.

People now comprehend what public health professionals were saying all along; to improve health, all sectors must work together. The only way to ensure the success of interventions is to partner with multiple disciplines. To date, the coronavirus has infected 212 countries and territories around the world, with 3,759,306 cases reported, and 259,590 deaths (Worldometer, 2020). Leaders around the world to control the spread of the infection had to require people to stay home, close schools, restaurants, theaters, sporting events, international travel, and more. But these closures will not have been possible without the collaboration of the communities, and the businesses. The health sector has proven to be the most essential discipline, with hospitals filled, parks and stadium were converted into hospitals. Doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals have to work extra shifts to provide care to patients infected with COVID-19. Leaders have to work closely with public health professionals before making any decisions that will affect the communities. Health and public health professionals have to collect data regularly to allow concerned parties to make informed decisions.

Some countries have done better than others in containing the spread of the virus. Hardy, Bohan, and Trotter (2013) argued that the best approaches to modern public health concerns often involve looking beyond standardized or evidence-based behavioral change intervention models and targeting the social determinants of health at the root of the problem. In the United States, the issue of health disparities has surfaced again, the mortality rate for Black Americans (92.3 deaths per 100,000 population) and Hispanic/Latino persons (74.3) are reported substantially higher than that of white (45.2) or Asian (34.5) persons (CDC, 2020). Among the explanations are poor living conditions, work circumstances, lack of health insurance, and underlying medical conditions. Bhattacharya (2013) underlined the importance of social structure in population health. The coronavirus in the United States has allowed everybody to see the lack of social structure in the country starting with the sad truth of food insecurity, the loss of revenues, and the incapacity of public services to deserving a scared and needy population.

The role of public health professionals more than ever is to collaborate with country leaders and other disciplines, to ensure that:

  • People receive frequent, clear, transparent, and credible information
  • Continue to monitor the disease, collect data, and track disparities
  • Ensure that strategies are put in place to address those disparities at a community level
  • Improve management of patients and allocation of resources
  • Increase testing capacity especially among minority groups and ensure that they receive appropriate services/treatment to limit complications and death among those groups
  • Continue education at a community level by assessing the needs and using community members to help spread the messages
  • Link individual to low-cost and free services as possible

There are many lessons to learn from this pandemic but the most significant one is the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in the process of improving population health. The coronavirus pandemic reinforces the need for integrating all disciplines (Health, Politics, Economics, Ethics, Epidemiologic, and Law) during the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of interventions. International collaboration and a global perspective are also a must in the management of the coronavirus pandemic. Our only hope to win this battle is a collaboration between countries, governments, public and private organizations, researchers, and communities.

 

 By Sabine Silien Charles, MD, DrPH

http://drsabinecharles.cdsante.org

Cite de la Sante, Inc

 

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). People with asthma. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/asthma.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). What is asthma? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/faqs.htm