19 FEB,2020 | MEDC
The coronavirus has already claimed well over a thousand lives worldwide and the WHO has warned of a grave global threat in the time to come. It is worth noting that this virus is still some distance away from reaching pandemic proportions. However, before that stage is reached, India needs to strengthen its public healthcare system considerably. In an increasingly borderless world, it takes political and organizational skill to commit resourcing to such global emergencies and to obtain success therein. In India, we tend to underinvest in public health, and it will be difficult to garner at short notice the huge resources that would be necessary for deployment should a medical crisisoccur. Also, as China is todaythe world’s ultimate low-cost supply chain, there is much at stake for global business. Thus, the economic impact of the virus is being felt in varying degrees all over the world, including in India. There is no reason yet to panic, but our government needs to be clear and transparent about its course of action in the event of a national emergency. Prevention is better than cure, and India can do much better on the prevention front by refocussing on the development of public health infrastructure, including creating reliable statistical and epidemiological databasesencompassingrelevant details of the country’s entire population. Intellectual leadership is required for understanding the implications of each new medical complication, and extension services are required to communicate this to the lower rungs of the healthcare industry, particularly within the affected areas. Given the current economic slowdown, there is definitely a resource crunch. However, strengthening ourfragile healthcare system through visionary long-term planning and adequate budgetary allocations is the need of the hour. Indianeeds to urgently revisit its disaster management capabilities and strategies.
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