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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.

Medical Tourism in India: Progress or Predicament?

It is estimated that the size of the medical tourism market in the country will be Rs 1,95,000 crore in 2012. Based on a literature review of healthcare business media, policy documents and a few academic papers, this essay looks at the scope for medical tourism in India and situates it within the Asian context. It traces shifts in policy with the growth of a tertiary corporate health sector that is urban-centric, and subject to minimal regulation and monitoring. The State acts primarily as a steward. The essay also examines the implications of medical tourism for general medical care and how such policy shifts distort health systems. This analysis raises questions of accessibility, affordability, and ethics in medical care, and asks if it is sensible to promote medical tourism in a democratic welfare state, with poor public healthcare facilities for the masses.
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