Amid COVID-19 pandemic, are non-COVID patients left in the lurch?

  • Laima Alam Bahria Town International Hospital, Rawalpindi
  • Syed Kumail Hasan Kazmi Fellow Gastroenterology, Pak Emirates Military Hospital, Rawalpindi
  • Mafaza Alam Registrar Operative Dentistry, Armed Forces Institute of Dentistry, Rawalpindi
  • Varqa Faraid General Dentist, Tooth Works Dental Clinic, Islamabad
Keywords: Covid-19, chronic disease, depression, health care, inequalities, pandemic


Objectives: 1) To explore the possible impact of the pandemic on the health seeking behavior of the patients, 2) To explore the relation of socio-demographics on the utility of health-care facilities.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted by enrolling all patients ≥15 years of age presenting to the Out-Patient-Department of three main public-hospitals after obtaining ethical committee approval. A questionnaire with validated Urdu translation was filled by each participant that included socio-demographic data, pre-Covid and Covid-19 era health seeking behaviors and the impact of the pandemic on the utilization of healthcare facilities. Data was analyzed using SPSS V.19.

Results: A total of 393 patients were enrolled with a male preponderance (72%) and a median age range of 31-45 years. Fifty-eight percent of the study population was unemployed and 47.3% were seeking follow up care. The frequency of ER and multiple (>4 times) OPD visits were significantly decreased in the Covid-19 times whereas, the laboratory and radiology services were largely unaffected. A significant number of patients were not satisfied with the current healthcare facilities that was seen irrespective of the socio-demographic status. Emergency Room and radiology services were largely unaffected whereas, elective procedures and laboratory facilities were reported to be severely affected or delayed in relation to socio-demographic variables.

Conclusions: Healthcare inequalities have widened and depression has shown a sharp rise during this pandemic. The over-burdened healthcare facilities at the verge of collapse may miss out on the chronic non-Covid patients which would ultimately lead to increased morbidity and mortality.


How to cite this:
Alam L, Kazmi SKH, Alam M, Faraid V. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, are non-COVID patients left in the lurch? Pak J Med Sci. 2021;37(2):576-581. doi:

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

How to Cite
Alam, L., Kazmi, S. K., Alam, M., & Faraid, V. (2021). Amid COVID-19 pandemic, are non-COVID patients left in the lurch?. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 37(2).
Original Articles