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Beyond Biomedical and Statistical Approaches in COVID-19

The evolving COVID-19 pandemic requires that data and operational responses be examined from a public health perspective. While there exist deep contestations about the epidemic control strategies to be adopted, past experience seems to be corroborated in the present epidemic that a contextually rooted “shoe-leather public health” approach provides the most effective interventions and operational strategies, more so in a society as diverse as ours. Drawing from this, an analysis of the COVID-19 situation in India is put forth, and debates on mitigation strategies, optimisation of testing, and the essential steps for a comprehensive set of interventions in order to minimise human suffering are addressed.

Indian Public Health Associations on COVID-19

Leading Indian professional associations of public health have released a second joint statement on 25 May 2020, on the COVID-19 pandemic and its management in the country. The central issue they raise is the ignoring of technical advice of the country’s leading experts and institutions in decision-making about strategies for handling the pandemic. The larger politics of knowledge in public health and its interdisciplinary requirements are discussed.

Draft National Health Policy 2015

This paper contributes to the debate on the Draft National Health Policy 2015 by analysing and critiquing some of its key recommendations within the prevailing social, economic, and political context of the country. This policy seems to suggest that strategic purchasing of curative health services from both the public and private sectors can enable India to achieve the goal of "universal healthcare." The draft policy is based on two assumptions. One, policy interventions since the National Health Policy 2002 have been largely successful and two, there is harmony of purpose between public and private healthcare delivery systems which allows the private sector to be used for achieving public health goals. This article argues that these assumptions are flawed, highlights the various contradictions in the policy and cautions against over-optimism on publicly-financed health insurance schemes.

Inequities in Access to Health Services in India: Caste, Class and Region

Despite India's impressive economic performance after the introduction of economic reforms in the 1990s, progress in advancing the health status of Indians has been slow and uneven. Large inequities in health and access to health services continue to persist and have even widened across states, between rural and urban areas, and within communities. Three forms of inequities have dominated India's health sector. Historical inequities that have their roots in the policies and practices of British colonial India, many of which continued to be pursued well after independence; socio-economic inequities manifest in caste, class and gender differentials; and inequities in the availability, utilisation and affordability of health services. Of these, critical to ensuring health for all in the immediate future will be the effectiveness with which India addresses inequities in provisioning of health services and assurance of quality care.

Missionaries in Medical Care

Missionary hospitals in India appear to be better distributed in those states which have comparatively good institutional and infrastructural facilities. Given that they are increasingly facing financial and human power constraints, they may have to look more closely at the distribution of their services.
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