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A wholesome strategy to counter COVID-19

A wholesome strategy to counter COVID-19

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

In news:

The Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), has acknowledged the success of Mumbai’s densely populated Dharavi slum in containing the COVID-19 pandemicMumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru are among India’s major metropolitan agglomerations and are also the current foci of the pandemic within the country. This points to both the speed and the scale of the epidemic moving within densely populated areas as well as success in the way sustained municipal efforts and community participation can together blunt the spread of the virus. The case of Dharavi is an example.

Disaggregate the tracking mechanism:

  • Disaggregate the COVID-19tracking mechanisms and the national level data that are updated daily.
  • Instead, there should be 733 district-level versions, where each one is updated and reported on a daily basis, at the district level.
  • State and national summaries are
  • However, ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of district-level tracking is critical.
  • The first output will be to display the number of districts with extremely small or no incidence numbers.
  • In order that they retain their low incidence status, such districts should be supported with all comprehensive testing kits and contact tracing know-how.
  • The earlier scheme of designating districts as green, yellow and redwill be strengthened with this disaggregated reporting.

District level governance:

  • District Magistratesshould use the full range of social support schemes available in support of the District Health Officer and team, to be able to prevent anyone from facing situations of hunger or economic distress.
  • In addressing an epidemic, if better household nutrition and income outcomes can be obtained, then these would be a huge win.

Leveraging the colleges and Universities:

  • The testing capacity in the district can be scaled up dramatically by coopting the science departments of every college and university.
  • Thus, chemistry and zoology-allied departments such as microbiology and biochemistry can lend their laboratory services to carry out basic polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based tests.
  • This will require administrative imagination and collaboration from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Department of Biotechnology as well as the University Grants Commission.

Health care as a career:

  • It is certain that health care will be a reliable career opportunity.
  • Not using emerging talents in educational institutions in tier 2 and tier 3 towns in many districts in India would be a wasted opportunity, both in terms of training and nurturing ambitions.

Testing as the only panacea:

  • Increased testing is necessary.
  • It will be the single biggest contributor to stemming the tide of morbidityand mortality in India.
  • Wherever testing has been constrained, incidence rates have risen.
  • Epidemics are not to be treated as law and order situationswith policing alone as a preventive measure.
  • Lockdowns, withouton-demand testing, are administratively easy-to-administer exercises. But they are harsh, with possibilities of multiple collateral damage at the community and economy levels.
  • Freely available, quality assured testing,even without lockdowns, can achieve far more.
  • Such testing inspires confidence among the population, encourage early treatment seeking behaviour, and at a public health level, enable the understanding of disease dynamics within the community.
  • Expanding testing by coopting all colleges and technical institutions represents the best opportunity to prevent the epidemic from becoming a surge.
  • This should be done till individual level test kits become available.

Personalised care:

There is a need to build on expanding the network of monitoring exponentially. Through this, COVID-19 positive individuals should be able to monitor their own oxygenation status at home, along with basic fever management medicines.

This requires two bold administrative leaps:

  1. Ensure every positive diagnosis report is also delivered along with a pulse oximeter and phone number to call and report status on;
  2. Ensure that there would be enough oxygen-equipped beds in every nook and corner of the country.

Personal Protective Equipment:

There is a need to ensure that our doctors, nurses, laboratory personnel and floor workers in hospitals are protected with everything they deserve — personal protective equipment to safety at home, and salaries on time.

Pharma and Biotech:

In tandem, critical engagement from Indian biopharmaceutical and biotech companies should be encouraged to produce validated and affordable antiviral drugs and monoclonal antibodies.

India’s general health-care spending has been far below optimal. But if innovations to help manage the current crisis are suitably capitalised on, they can enable India to move far ahead in health-care delivery and related outcomes. COVID-19 is both a crisis and an opportunity for health-care reform as well as understanding the interplay of health outcomes with social and economic support interventions, and limitations of law enforcement in managing epidemics.

Source:”The Hindu”


India is the pharmacy to the world, and with a coordinated effort, the COVID-19 crisis can be used as an opportunity to ramp up the health care and pharmaceutical sectors in the nation.