What is syndemia? New classification proposed for Covid-19


After months of quarantine, a new approach to the impact of Covid-19 emerges: the union. But what is unionism? This is a deeper understanding of the behavior and consequences of the virus in the world.

According to the American medical anthropologist Merrill Singer – creator of the term in 1990 -, the syndrome is defined as when “two or more diseases interact in such a way that they cause greater damage than the mere sum of these two diseases”.

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This is the reality observed in the world today, since, since the arrival of the coronavirus and the implementation of safety protocols, pre-existing diseases have been aggravated and treatments have been paralyzed. In addition, the socio-environmental factor has a major influence in this scenario.

From pandemic to union

At first it was indisputable to determine mass contamination by the new coronavirus as a pandemic. However, after the various studies carried out and after the analysis of global damage, it was possible to reach a new classification.

Syndemia is the union of the words synergy and pandemic. And this term is very specific when it closely evaluates the current reality. While European countries are facing the second wave of contamination, other health problems related to the coronavirus are evident and are multiplying worldwide.

coronavirus covid 19 mysteries
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Many cancer treatments, for example, have been paralyzed by several problems. Both due to the lack of infrastructure and medical staff, which was directed to fight the virus, as well as the need to isolate patients during quarantine. Therefore, renaming the world situation in relation to Covid-19 as a union makes perfect sense.

As the infectious disease physician Guilherme Henn points out (in an interview Newspaper O Povo): “The understanding that the union brings is that there are other diseases, normally non-communicable, that can have their naturally harmful effect multiplied when we have a disease like Covid-19 in progress”.

The influence of socio-environmental factors

Social inequalities, in addition to their characteristic problems, are crucial in worsening diseases; especially in this atypical moment in which we live. With so many restrictions, many people stopped caring for and maintaining treatments.

Despite the adherence of health professionals to online resources, such as telemedicine, for example, not all patients are able to access it. Whether due to financial problems – worsened by high unemployment – lack of information, poor internet access, etc.

coronavirus covid 19
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These are just some of the obstacles that many people have faced to keep their health up to date. Safely moving from home to the hospital is also a challenge. Knowing that public transport can be a major spreader of the virus, many prefer not to take any chances.

All of these aspects need to be taken into account when assessing the impact of coronavirus on the world. These are problems that intertwine and expose the need for a more empathic approach, that is, covid-19 treatments and more efficient and comprehensive social intervention plans.



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