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      Insight into the Attitudes and Experiences of Adults with Non-Communicable Diseases a Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Malta Experience


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          Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have been a global epidemic long before the advent of COVID-19. Understandably, with the onset of COVID-19, health priorities shifted. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of COVID-19 through attitudes and experiences on the health and well-being of the Malta adult population suffering from NCDs, a year into COVID-19.


          An anonymous survey was distributed online between February 1 and 26, 2021 using Google Forms ®. This assessed the impact of COVID-19 on medical care, intention to take a COVID-19 vaccine, and whether COVID-19 was acquired. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed.


          Out of the 1,034 participants, 34.82% (95% CI, 31.97–37.77; n = 360) reported to suffer from NCDs (single NCD, n = 276; 2 NCDs, n = 56; 3 NCDs, n = 28) with 6.94% (95% CI, 4.71–10.09) of these reported acquiring COVID-19. Since COVID-19, the NCD population visited the general practitioners less (47%) than those without NCDs (32%) ( p ≤ 0.001). With a consensus of concern and fear, “I rather skip check-ups than risk getting COVID-19 in waiting room or clinic.” Postponement and cancellations of medical appointments were reported: “had to do blood tests privately as health centre was not doing them” and “delayed treatment and still awaiting further appointments that were postponed more than once.” The majority intended to take COVID-19 vaccine.


          It is clear that individuals with NCDs have experienced a general negative effect on their medical care. It's recommended that a dual action strategy is embraced to ensure that both NCDs and COVID-19 are treated simultaneously, leaving no one behind.

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          Most cited references22

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          SARS-CoV-2 Cell Entry Depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and Is Blocked by a Clinically Proven Protease Inhibitor

          Summary The recent emergence of the novel, pathogenic SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in China and its rapid national and international spread pose a global health emergency. Cell entry of coronaviruses depends on binding of the viral spike (S) proteins to cellular receptors and on S protein priming by host cell proteases. Unravelling which cellular factors are used by SARS-CoV-2 for entry might provide insights into viral transmission and reveal therapeutic targets. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 uses the SARS-CoV receptor ACE2 for entry and the serine protease TMPRSS2 for S protein priming. A TMPRSS2 inhibitor approved for clinical use blocked entry and might constitute a treatment option. Finally, we show that the sera from convalescent SARS patients cross-neutralized SARS-2-S-driven entry. Our results reveal important commonalities between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection and identify a potential target for antiviral intervention.
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            Global burden of 369 diseases and injuries in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019

            Summary Background In an era of shifting global agendas and expanded emphasis on non-communicable diseases and injuries along with communicable diseases, sound evidence on trends by cause at the national level is essential. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) provides a systematic scientific assessment of published, publicly available, and contributed data on incidence, prevalence, and mortality for a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive list of diseases and injuries. Methods GBD estimates incidence, prevalence, mortality, years of life lost (YLLs), years lived with disability (YLDs), and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) due to 369 diseases and injuries, for two sexes, and for 204 countries and territories. Input data were extracted from censuses, household surveys, civil registration and vital statistics, disease registries, health service use, air pollution monitors, satellite imaging, disease notifications, and other sources. Cause-specific death rates and cause fractions were calculated using the Cause of Death Ensemble model and spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression. Cause-specific deaths were adjusted to match the total all-cause deaths calculated as part of the GBD population, fertility, and mortality estimates. Deaths were multiplied by standard life expectancy at each age to calculate YLLs. A Bayesian meta-regression modelling tool, DisMod-MR 2.1, was used to ensure consistency between incidence, prevalence, remission, excess mortality, and cause-specific mortality for most causes. Prevalence estimates were multiplied by disability weights for mutually exclusive sequelae of diseases and injuries to calculate YLDs. We considered results in the context of the Socio-demographic Index (SDI), a composite indicator of income per capita, years of schooling, and fertility rate in females younger than 25 years. Uncertainty intervals (UIs) were generated for every metric using the 25th and 975th ordered 1000 draw values of the posterior distribution. Findings Global health has steadily improved over the past 30 years as measured by age-standardised DALY rates. After taking into account population growth and ageing, the absolute number of DALYs has remained stable. Since 2010, the pace of decline in global age-standardised DALY rates has accelerated in age groups younger than 50 years compared with the 1990–2010 time period, with the greatest annualised rate of decline occurring in the 0–9-year age group. Six infectious diseases were among the top ten causes of DALYs in children younger than 10 years in 2019: lower respiratory infections (ranked second), diarrhoeal diseases (third), malaria (fifth), meningitis (sixth), whooping cough (ninth), and sexually transmitted infections (which, in this age group, is fully accounted for by congenital syphilis; ranked tenth). In adolescents aged 10–24 years, three injury causes were among the top causes of DALYs: road injuries (ranked first), self-harm (third), and interpersonal violence (fifth). Five of the causes that were in the top ten for ages 10–24 years were also in the top ten in the 25–49-year age group: road injuries (ranked first), HIV/AIDS (second), low back pain (fourth), headache disorders (fifth), and depressive disorders (sixth). In 2019, ischaemic heart disease and stroke were the top-ranked causes of DALYs in both the 50–74-year and 75-years-and-older age groups. Since 1990, there has been a marked shift towards a greater proportion of burden due to YLDs from non-communicable diseases and injuries. In 2019, there were 11 countries where non-communicable disease and injury YLDs constituted more than half of all disease burden. Decreases in age-standardised DALY rates have accelerated over the past decade in countries at the lower end of the SDI range, while improvements have started to stagnate or even reverse in countries with higher SDI. Interpretation As disability becomes an increasingly large component of disease burden and a larger component of health expenditure, greater research and development investment is needed to identify new, more effective intervention strategies. With a rapidly ageing global population, the demands on health services to deal with disabling outcomes, which increase with age, will require policy makers to anticipate these changes. The mix of universal and more geographically specific influences on health reinforces the need for regular reporting on population health in detail and by underlying cause to help decision makers to identify success stories of disease control to emulate, as well as opportunities to improve. Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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              The mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with and without depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders: a longitudinal study of three Dutch case-control cohorts

              Background The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in people with pre-existing mental health disorders is unclear. In three psychiatry case-control cohorts, we compared the perceived mental health impact and coping and changes in depressive symptoms, anxiety, worry, and loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic between people with and without lifetime depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders. Methods Between April 1 and May 13, 2020, online questionnaires were distributed among the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety, Netherlands Study of Depression in Older Persons, and Netherlands Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Association cohorts, including people with (n=1181) and without (n=336) depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The questionnaire contained questions on perceived mental health impact, fear of COVID-19, coping, and four validated scales assessing depressive symptoms, anxiety, worry, and loneliness used in previous waves during 2006–16. Number and chronicity of disorders were based on diagnoses in previous waves. Linear regression and mixed models were done. Findings The number and chronicity of disorders showed a positive graded dose–response relation, with greater perceived impact on mental health, fear, and poorer coping. Although people with depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders scored higher on all four symptom scales than did individuals without these mental health disorders, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, they did not report a greater increase in symptoms during the pandemic. In fact, people without depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders showed a greater increase in symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas individuals with the greatest burden on their mental health tended to show a slight symptom decrease. Interpretation People with depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders are experiencing a detrimental impact on their mental health from the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires close monitoring in clinical practice. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to have further increased symptom severity compared with their prepandemic levels. Funding Dutch Research Council.

                Author and article information

                Dubai Medical Journal
                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, karger@karger.com )
                12 November 2021
                12 November 2021
                : 1-7
                [1] aAnatomy Department, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Msida, Malta
                [2] bTrauma and Orthopaedic Department, Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta
                [3] cPaediatric Department, Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta
                Author notes
                Copyright © 2021 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC). Usage and distribution for commercial purposes requires written permission. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                : 29 May 2021
                : 7 September 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, References: 23, Pages: 7
                Complementary Medicine − Research Article

                non-communicable diseases,coronavirus,delivery of health care,syndemic,malta


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