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Syllabus: GS 3
Synopsis: One year has been passed when the first confirmed case was reported in India. What are the lessons that India Should learn from this Pandemic?
India’s first confirmed case of Sars-CoV-2 was reported exactly a year ago. Experts with the help of a modeling-based study predicted that the country could have hundreds of millions of cases and a few million deaths by July 2020.
What were the challenges faced by people during the pandemic?
There was a sudden decrease in economic activities, low job opportunities, slowing of the economy. Impacts further worsened due to lockdowns.
- One of the most disturbing visuals that came from the pandemic was the migrants walking back to their villages on the highways.
- People who tested positive for the virus and the frontline workers were discriminated against in society.
- An excessive amount of unreliable information i.e. “infodemic” became a major obstacle in effective response to the pandemic.
What were the steps taken to deal with the pandemic?
Pandemic highlighted the need for strengthening the Indian health system and boost public health services.
- Firstly, COVID-19 specific services which include testing, contact tracing and treatment facilities were scaled up.
- Secondly, in order to achieve self-sufficiency, the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) coverall, testing kits, and ventilators was increased in India.
- Thirdly, researchers and scientists worked together to develop new testing kits, to conduct clinical trials on treatment procedures and vaccines.
- Fourthly, two SARS CoV-2 vaccines were approved in India and vaccination started at the beginning of 2021. The COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in India are being used in other countries as well.
What are the lessons learnt from the pandemic?
India has reported nearly 10.7 million confirmed cases and 1,53,000 deaths in the last year. Five lessons which should be learnt are mentioned below:
- First, the pandemic has widened the inequalities in the society as the poor and vulnerable sections were the worst affected. The government should urgently increase investment in strengthening health systems to address inequities and reduce poverty.
- This will prepare the country for future pandemics and help in accelerating economic growth.
- Second, Stronger health infrastructure is possible by interventions in various areas, such as:
- Governance and leadership.
- Health financing and health information system.
- Providing services and delivery.
- Health infrastructure and workforce.
- Medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines.
- Third, the hospital-dominated medical care system needs to be changed to a more inclusive health system for the lower section.
- Community clinics could be set up along with a strengthened primary healthcare system in both rural and urban areas.
- Fourth, states and the union government should spend more on health care and public health services. Laboratories and disease surveillance systems should be well-developed. The provision of mental health services via teleconsultation can be effectively used.
- Fifth, sustain the three-way partnership between policymakers, technical experts, and community members which have been formed for pandemic response.
- This would help in ensuring that health policies are informed, effectively implemented, and services widely used by the community. People’s participation and community engagement was important and need to be continued post the pandemic.
- These learnings should be used to create a stronger healthcare system in India, which will provide accessible, available, affordable, and quality healthcare services to each and every citizen of this country.