COVID-19 is here to stay, the global health crisis will only worsen till COVID-19 is managed efficiently. Government response to the health crisis has been different around the world. With the sudden onset of COVID-19, healthcare should be provided to those in need at the lowest cost as economies around the world strive to remain proficient.
Australia has an estimated 682 private and 675 public hospitals but less than 20% of public hospitals have a specialised ICU. Population with the age of 60 is 21.4% of the total. The unexpected nature of the pandemic has resulted in a joint private-public partnership for the crisis with the government committing to pay for half the costs for private hospitals to provide services.
The UK has around 1257 hospitals which include the NHS trust-managed and private hospitals. The percentage of people aged 60 and over increased to 23.8% in 2018. Around 92% of the recorded deaths due to COVID-19 in England have occurred in this age group and hence the UK is in a more vulnerable position. According to the NHS, one-quarter of the population, and two-thirds of people aged 65 or over have two or more long-term co-morbidities. The NHS listed all private hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. The hospital sector is at severe risk of staff shortage. More than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses in England and Wales have been asked to return to the NHS and anyone in Scotland who has left the medical profession within the last 3 years have been asked to return. Allied Health Professionals have also been encouraged to return to work. To meet the expected wave of patients, the government has also set up field hospitals in different locations.
Germany has 6 hospital beds per 1000 people and 33.9 intensive care beds per 100,000 people. Germany has 12 nurses and 4.3 doctors per 1000 inhabitants. Hospitals in Germany have been asked to postpone elective surgeries to keep beds free for COVID-19 patients. They have also passed the hospital relief act, where the hospitals will receive a compensation payment of 560 Euros for each patient. This is done to protect the hospitals from financial losses.
The healthcare capacity in the USA is considered as adequate. There are about 3 hospital beds and 3 medical practitioners per 1000 individuals. People over the age of 60 years account for 17% of the total population. Healthcare capacity is burdened with the increasing number of cases. The US currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. The US has passed 2.1 trillion dollars worth of coronavirus aid to provide significant relief to the US healthcare sector. The US has provided 100 billion dollars worth of grants to hospitals to cover health-care-related expenses and lost revenues.
About 24.2% are aged over 60 years in Canada. Canada has 2.6 medical practitioners and 2.5 hospital beds per 1000 people. This is lower than countries like Germany, the UK and the US. Hospitals are therefore overcrowded and there are limited resources to treat COIVD-19 patients. However, the Canadian government acted quickly and committed more than a billion dollars to expand public health measures. Canada’s relatively low rate of infection currently does not possess a high risk of the healthcare system being overwhelmed but the ever-evolving situation with the virus puts the system at some risk.
In 2019-20 the New Zealand government spent 19.3 billion dollars on health-related items. New Zealand has 2.6 beds and 3.35 medical practitioners per 1000 people. The population aged over 60 years is about 21.3 %. The New Zealand government was swift in taking action against the virus by imposing early lockdowns. This placed New Zealand in a strong position both economically and health-wise. This had enabled them to return to business-as-usual faster than other nations. Due to their stringent lockdown and robust healthcare system, the infection rate was low as compared to other countries and hence their healthcare system is at a low-risk of being overwhelmed.