Dr. V K Singh
Editor-in-Chief & MD,
The present pandemic has been a great learning for the future. It has changed social behaviour of human beings, there is hardly any extravagant expenditure, it has brought self-discipline, unpretentious showcase during social functions and it has also tested our capability to fight amidst the adversities. There is conservation of limited resources by all, should it not be called mock exercise for disaster which included testing mettle of health workers too. It has taught us to be self-reliant. We were importing PPE, ventilators, and other healthcare products and same is being exported to other countries.
We should look back at Spanish flu a virus pandemic of 1918-19 a century ago which affected 1/3 of world’s population that is 500 million in those years and 50 million people died. Does COVID 19 is another way of population stabilization, warning to human race to keep watch on pollution and climatic changes which is one of contributory factor of Pandemic. We are making lifestyle changes, accepting balance diet, and doing Yoga etc. to boost our immunity as well as to make robust psycho social efforts to fight isolation and uncertainties.
We as a nation need to pay more attention to public health, quality of life rather than curative medicine. We are overwhelmed with an idea that vaccine and herd immunity would come to our rescue to control pandemic which by all logic would take a year to control. A credible Vaccine with all scientific parameters is also six months away though few countries have started using it out of desperation to control, few questions are still unanswered how long immunity would last, what are safety data/side effects and its acceptability with all right answers. There is also commercial angle to push vaccine, the stand of India is more appropriate to accept after due consideration and deliberation. It would be appropriate to draw parallel like use of plasma therapy, tablet Chloroquine since nothing was available to treat, is now recommended to be discarded. Let us not panic instead we should let scientific community work without stress to find proven vaccine. With all technology standpoint we are better to tackle COVID-19 compared to Spanish flu of 1918.
We have neglected healthcare in terms of spending and have limited number of beds, 1 bed per thousand population compare to 3.5 as recommended by WHO, limited number of health workers and inappropriate quality of healthcare. We are still riddled with malnutrition, infant mortality, lack of awareness, and health education. We have woken up out of slumber to cover the situation at breakneck speed to handle pandemic, this certain unprecedented time has forced us to think about the health infrastructure. Do we have to wait for crisis to develop to plan, but one can argue that we have done better than advanced countries. We hope to have good lesson to learn about holistic healthcare in future. We need to strengthen health systems, primary healthcare, and strict control on private and corporate healthcare. National Digital Health Mission is good beginning to use technology to make healthcare system robust.
We need to make qualitative healthcare system at optimum cost. The political will is gaining momentum to make responsive healthcare system. What many healthcare organisations demanded year after year could not be achieved earlier but now feasible as pandemic has made it happen. Accountability of each stakeholder in healthcare is to be enforced to meet our objective to provide “Health for All” which we failed and remained unfulfilled slogan of year 2000.