ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Public Health for All

Universalising Healthcare in India: From Care to Coverage edited by Imrana Qadeer, K B Saxena and P M Arathi, Delhi: Aakar Books, 2019; pp 475, `1,495.

COVID-19 Cases and Vaccination Inequality: A Comparative Analysis of Political Regimes

Different regimes have different capacities to respond to pandemics. Historically, democracies outperformed autocracies in health outcomes. However, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortcomings, with a sharper tone, of full democracies (having higher COVID-19 cases than authoritarian regimes) and led to the formation of two competing hypotheses among the cross-national comparative political researchers: (i) biasing autocracy: that authoritarian regime manipulated and underreported COVID-19 cases, and (ii) efficient autocracy: that authoritarian regimes can control the spread of the disease effectively than democracies. We examined these two hypotheses, employing Benford’s test and generalised linear models, using the latest data set from the World Health Organization, EIU, United Nations, and other relevant sources. Findings include having no empirical support for the biasing hypothesis. However, the efficient autocracy hypothesis acquired partial empirical support. We further examined the data on COVID-19 vaccination for reliability (using Benford’s test), and the results indicated a potential case of data manipulation.

Fiscal Marksmanship in Health Expenditure

There is a dearth of literature about fi scal marksmanship beyond total revenue expenditures and defi cits at the central or state level. It is of utmost importance to elicit a debate on the budgetary discipline around micro variables. These micro-level deviations result in macro-level errors in budget forecasting. The article explores state-level fi scal marksmanship in the context of medical and public health expenditure over the period—2002 to 2017. The deviations in capital health spending are high compared to those in revenue health spending. This may have an impact on the improvement in health over the long term.

Gandhi and the Development of Public Health Infrastructure in Interwar Bombay

The fight for independence from the colonial yoke gained momentum in the early 20th century. Anti-colonial sentiment reached its peak in the interwar period as a result of the mass movements initiated by Gandhi, and his ideas of “non-violence,” ‘boycott’ and ‘swadeshi’ had a significant impact on the minds of the native population. This essay examines the impact of Gandhian ideology on the development of public health infrastructure in Bombay city during the interwar period. It highlights the contribution of the medical professionals and students in Bombay, challenging the colonial authorities and constructing a national identity through the lens of public health infrastructure.

Epidemic and Infectious Disease Surveillance

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen some Asian countries employ sophisticated mass-surveillance technologies—normally employed to gather intelligence for domestic security purposes—to contain the spread of infection in their populations. There has also been an intrusion of military and allied national security actors into the traditionally civilian domain of public health, in the form of disease surveillance. These emerging developments in the pandemic response provide a pretext for a limited historical review, beginning from World War II to the present, centred on the intersection between infectious disease surveillance and control, national security, and military in the Western world.

Novel Health Approaches Emerging from the Covid-19 Crisis

Novel public health experiments from Maharashtra in the pandemic times, involving co-production of healthcare, interventionist regulation of private hospital rates and popular initiatives to ensure social accountability of private hospitals, demonstrate significant potentials to advance people-centred health system changes.

How Did West Bengal Perform in the ‘Firecracker Ban Test’ amid COVID-19?

This article analyses what makes a social regulation like the firecracker ban in the state of West Bengal in India a success story such that it may be replicated by other states which are striving hard to curb air pollution levels and arrest rising pandemic cases amidst a festive season. The authors have examined the firecracker ban on the basis of Teubner’s Regulatory Trilemma and Parker and Braithwaite’s three principles to check whether it passes the tests of effectiveness, responsiveness and coherence. The article demonstrates how West Bengal has carved a new and expanded meaning of “performing regulation” in India by ensuring compliance through not just a threat of punishment but cooperation as well.

Trust in Public Health Practice

Two instances of trust deficit during the COVID-19 pandemic reveal that trust-building is a process based on past experiences of people, built through engagement with institutions and service providers over a longer period. First, it is in the context of accessing treatment in the midst of inadequate access to healthcare, and second, about vaccine hesitancy. There is a need to acknowledge the role of public trust for effective public health practice, especially when the science behind the programme is intellectually arduous for the common public.

Air Quality Management in India at the Crossroads

The discourse around air quality has grown substantially since 2015 with renewed engagement from the judiciary, new-found political salience, and executive initiatives. As we move from diagnosing the extent and causes of the crisis to finding appropriate responses, air quality governance will need to expand beyond the traditional policy instruments and agencies to become “regulation-plus.” This also requires government agencies to draw upon expertise beyond the atmospheric science and environmental engineering.

 

Hospitalised Care among Larger States

Though the global spending on health is rising worldwide, people were still paying too much out of their pockets. This article examined the comparative expenditure on hospitalised care in India using three rounds of the National Sample Surveys. As there is low footfall in public facilities, the Government of India needs to take necessary measures to strengthen the public health system.

 

Corona in the City of Mosquitoes

When there are public health threats at the local and global levels, how do researchers decide what to prioritise?

 

India’s Government Health Expenditure as the Ratio to GDP

The appropriateness of the criterion that pegs the ratio of public health expenditure to the gross domestic product—which is volatile—needs a re-examination. The targets for allocation and expenditure of financial resources for health need to be based on indicators that can be monitored.

 

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