The confinement and COVID-19 changed the lifestyles of billions of people across the world, and Moroccans are not excluded.
Rabat – Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) released a lengthy report studying the impact of COVID-19 and its induced lockdown on households.
The report includes a section in which the HCP explores the impact of Morocco’s lockdown on health care access for people suffering chronic diseases.
The HCP finds that of all households with one or more members suffering chronic diseases (30%), almost half of them were not able to access health services. Around 53% of the patients who have been unable to receive health care during confinement are in rural areas, against 46% in urban areas.
The HCP report shows that among the 29% of the households affected by common illnesses, 40% of them were unable to access health services (38% in urban areas and 44% in rural areas).
Regarding vaccinations, the HCP said that 11% of Moroccans have children who need vaccinations.
Approximately 36% of the households with children needing vaccinations forewent immunization services.
On April 16, the Ministry of Health recommended that the routine of immunization of children continue during the COVID-19 crisis.
The ministry warned that a delay in vaccination can increase the risk of contracting preventable diseases.
The statement also reassured parents and guardians that health centers and private clinics across Morocco will continue to give vaccines to children despite the COVID-19 crisis.
The lockdown, which Morocco extended for the third time and is now scheduled to run until June 10, made access to the centers a challenge for some parents. Some were also concerned about taking their children to health facilities amid the spread of COVID-19.
Pre- and post-pregnancy consultations
The HCP report warned that of the approximately 5% of households with a woman who needed to go to a doctor for antenatal and postnatal consultation services, approximately 30% had to give up these services during sanitary confinement.
Rural women were the most affected, with 33% against 27% in urban areas.
Approximately 34% of the 6% of households affected by reproductive health could not access health services during confinement (27% in urban areas and 39% in rural areas).
The HCP’s study shows that fear of contamination could be a direct cause in reducing the number of people who went for medical consultations.
Approximately 40% households renounced health services to treat chronic diseases for fear of being contaminated by COVID-19.
Some 53% of people with common diseases stopped seeking health services due to their fear.
This worry also stopped 61% of parents from taking children for vaccines. It also stopped 51% of women from seeking antenatal and postnatal consultations, and from seeking 64% of general reproductive health services.
Confinement poses mental health threat
Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani acknowledged how lockdown has a negative impact on people despite its positive result in containing the spread of COVID-19.
El Othmani said he knows that Moroccans are tired and the government is aware of the negative side of confinement, but still sees it as important for the safety of all citizens.
The HCP report echoes his statement, acknowledging how lockdown and the COVID-19 health threat can have a strong psychological impact on the population.
The impact can range from sleep disorders to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and panic attacks.
“For 49% of households, anxiety is the main psychological impact of confinement.”
The study says that the proportion reaches 54% among households living in poverty compared with 41% among those in comfortable, modern houses.
The study shows that 41% of Moroccans experience fear, mainly women (47%) against 40% for men.
Approximately 43% of underprivileged households experience fear due to the confinement and COVID-19 against 33% among wealthy families.
“30% of households express a feeling of claustrophobia (32% in urban areas and 24% in rural areas). This trauma affects 30% of households made up of 5 or more people, compared to 25% for small households of 2 people,” the HCP said.
The HCP said 25% of surveyed people mention an increase in phobias.
The number is higher in urban areas (29%) than in rural areas (18%).
Phobias also increased and among households whose leader has a higher education level (28%) than among those headed by a person with no formal education (23%), the study shows.
Confinement and COVID-19 effects are also causing sleep disorders among 24% of households. Urban populations suffer more sleep disorders (28%) than rural area inhabitants (14%).
Approximately 8% of households have members with other psychological disorders such as hypersensitivity and nervousness or tiredness, the HCP explained.