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The Politics of Knowledge

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.

National responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been shaped acr­oss countries by a narrative generated by the mathematical models of the anticipated spread of the novel coronavirus first identified in human beings at the end of 2019. Based on the Euro–American experience of influenza and influenza-like illness and China’s corona­virus experience, the models were gener­al­ised to all countries (Ferguson et al 2020; Adams 2020). The graphs generated by these models pictorially represented steep and tall peaks of cases and deaths, which were then superimposed by a flattened graph that projected the impact of strong “social distancing” measures.

The former triggered initial denial of such a threat, and then ill-planned hasty lockdowns in country ­after country as the strongest “social distancing’’ strategy. However, the epidemic curve and the responses have not been the same across continents and countries.

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Updated On : 17th Aug, 2020

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