oncologists prepare for a crisis and accompany their patients

They point out that the different hospitals put all their resources into fighting the Covid-19 and are looking for ways to guide patients and professionals

The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting more than ever the provision of medications, medical care, and even the very lives of cancer patients.

According to medical oncologists from different disciplines, both from the private and public spheres and from social works consulted by the newspaper Perfil, May will be a key month. All agree that oncology must prepare to face an unprecedented crisis and accompany its patients in a new context.

Julia Ismael, director of the National Cancer Institute (INC), which belongs to the Ministry of Health, explained to the aforementioned morning that the body considers the cancer patient within the group at risk of Covid-19, because various treatments weaken the system immune, such as chemotherapy, extensive radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplants.

“We are preparing a single document among 17 oncology associations in the country to guide doctors and health centers on how to deal with this situation; the document will be ready in the coming days,” said Ismael.

This protocol will not only include guidelines to minimize the chances of contagion from patients and health personnel. Ismael explains that they must also give ethical guidelines to professionals because they must choose appropriately when to postpone treatment and when not; and how to deal with the lack of inputs and resources, both human and material, that could be scarce in the near future.

Marcela Carballido, oncologist at the Udaondo Hospital, explains that oncological surgeries are the only ones, in addition to emergency surgeries, that will continue to be practiced during the pandemic.

“We are receiving cancer patients who are wandering in front of the closure of some oncology areas because their hospitals put all their resources into fighting the Covid-19. We have to see which colleagues we referred them to,” said a medical oncologist who requested a reservation.

The lack of preparation of some health centers for telemedicine or virtual assistance is another of the weak points of the system that this pandemic left in evidence, the doctors consulted agree.

Vicky Viel Temperley, founder of the organization Donde Quiero Estar, assists cancer patients and their families. The pandemic, he explains, caused some health centers to postpone the needs of many people with cancer. Its foundation surveyed at least 21 hospitals and health centers in different parts of the country. “Some areas of oncology are working well and others have stopped working.

“In some centers, no one answers or cares for patients. The main problems we see with the Covid-19 is access to medication, which is exacerbated in this situation because it further complicates the bureaucratic procedures for accessing treatments, for example in IOMA, PAMI and in the Drug Bank “, assures the morning.

“Another problem is that the parents of some children with cancer are not able to work and we have to help them pay the remises. The transfer to hospitals is a big problem, there are no ambulances,” he added.

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