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India’s Covid crisis shows public health neglect, problems and underinvestment

The family is waiting in an ambulance with a COVID-19-positive patient to be admitted to a hospital in Kolkata, India, on May 10, 2021.

Deverchan Chatterjee | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The world’s attention is now when India is the epicenter of a pandemic and India is fighting the deadly second wave of Covid-19.

The unfolding human tragedy has revealed the deep-seated problems that plague India’s public health system after decades of negligence and underinvestment.

The crisis has kneeled India’s public health system. The scene of lack of hospital beds and those desperately looking for life-saving oxygen and important medicines for loved ones dominate the international headlines.

Less assigned to health care

South Asian countries reported more 300,000 new daily infections in the last few weeks.. Cumulatively, Covid infections have reached nearly 24.7 million people, killing more than 270,284 people on Sunday, according to health ministry data.

However, health experts warn that the numbers are likely to be significantly underreported and that the actual magnitude and human casualties of Covid infection may not be officially known.

so Recent report by Fitch Solutions, Research firms said India remains in a bad position to tackle the rapid expansion of the pandemic, despite some healthcare reforms.

“With 8.5 beds per 10,000 people and eight doctors per 10,000 people, the country’s healthcare sector is unable to respond to such a crisis. In addition, the public sector’s healthcare delivery system is significantly inefficient. There is no sexuality, dysfunction or serious deficiency, which is consistent with the growing needs of the population, “the report added.

This figure is a tough read for a country like India, which has a population of 1.4 billion and accounts for 18% of the world’s population.

Lack of political will

The second wave in India began around February and accelerated from March to April. Satisfied with wearing masks at religious festivals and political gatherings, the virus spread rapidly as a large number of people gathered all over the country.

The pandemic highlighted the structural weaknesses of India’s public health system, but those problems were always present, said Chandra Kantora Hariya. a Specialist in public policy and medical systems based in New Delhi.

After a long and painful pandemic experience, I believe that political will is now stronger.

Chandra Kantora Hariya

Health Public Policy and Medical Systems Experts

He said this was mainly due to the lack of political will from successive parties and governments with authority not to prioritize public health.

“Public health was by no means a political priority, not an election agenda,” he said. “Through the hands-off approach, the government has sent a kind of message that health is an individual responsibility. People have to take responsibility and responsibility for the elected government and political leaders to ensure medical services. I don’t recognize. “

This is where the problem arises, Lahariya pointed out.

“This has allowed the private sector to grow exponentially, but the public sector continues to be underfunded and poorly performing,” he said in an email. “Now we are in this situation.”

Few Indians have health insurance

Private hospitals in India are primarily commercialized, with a focus on the treatment of illness and a focus on profits. To make matters worse, the vast majority of Indians do not have health insurance and pay for medical care from their pockets.

According to Fitch’s report, more than 80% of India’s population does not yet have critical health insurance, and about 68% have restricted or no access to essential medicines.

A pandemic can overwhelm almost any healthcare system, including the most adequate resources, but the current situation in India was not inevitable, said Vageesh Jain, a UK-based training public health doctor. Says.

“The fundamental problem is that the commercial-led private hospital system does not aim to provide long-term, continuous care to people for the purpose of disease prevention and management,” said Public Health England. Jane, who works on services and health protection, said. Response to Covid-19.

He added that addressing such issues is difficult in any situation, given the complexity and solutions required by multiple institutions.

“But it’s especially tricky in India, where public policy may have other swift victories, and is considered to be immediately worth noting,” he argued.

Awakening call to India?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticized for not acting early to curb the resurgence of the virus.

With a rare rebuke, the British medical journal The Lancet recently accused the Modi government. Waste early success About managing Covid and “presiding over a national catastrophe caused by self-harm.”

“I believe that after a long and painful pandemic experience, political will is now stronger,” said Lady of the Indian Public Health Foundation. He added that recent recommendations from the Central Budget and Finance Commission are positive indicators.

The catastrophic situation caused by the ongoing waves can be forgotten. But don’t forget.

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces budget in February Proposed to more than double medical care in India Welfare spending will be $ 30.1 billion (Rs 2.2 trillion).

This includes strengthening national institutions and creating new institutions to detect and treat new diseases. There is also a new federal system for developing national capabilities for primary, secondary and tertiary health care.

Still, experts say it’s still unclear whether the catastrophic crisis will be an awakening to take India’s public health seriously.

“This protracted pandemic will leave stronger and longer lasting traces in the memory of the public and policy makers. Even after the pandemic, the economy will always continue to slip on the banana peel of public health failure. I need to remind you that we are not investing in public health or a strong health system. “

Lahariya added that many public health disasters and emergencies have occurred in India so far. However, in most cases, minor changes have been made to the health care system.

“Now is the time to force the accountability of strong citizens in India to elected leaders. They should be asked by those who elect them, and we are the only ones to do something. You can expect change, “he said.

“The catastrophic situation caused by the ongoing waves is likely to be forgotten, but should not be forgotten.”

India’s Covid crisis shows public health neglect, problems and underinvestment

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