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

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COVID-19: Lessons from a Knowable Unknown

Since December 2019, the world has been combating a biological enemy—COVID-19. This article looks at how we arrived at this point and how we must be better prepared to battle the next Disease x, as the World Health Organization calls it.

 

World Trade Organization Is Moving Too Slow for Comfort

Any further delay to waive intellectual property rights and ensure adequate vaccines will prove costly.

 

Politics and Economics of Vaccine Policy

India’s COVID-19 vaccine policy betrays a lack of vision and social responsibility.

 

Accumulation of Poor Health Infrastructure

India has to substantially scale up its health infrastructure to protect lives and livelihoods.

 

COVID-19: Examining the Impact of Lockdown in India after One Year

One year after its announcement in March 2020, the consequences of India’s strict COVID-19 lockdown measures and ineffective policy responses continue to be felt, be it in terms of livelihood loss and economic downturn or increased marginalisation of vulnerable sections of society.

Budget 2021–22 on Health

The budget speech on 1 February 2021 announced an allocation of over `2.2 lakh crore to health and well-being, at 137% higher compared to BE 2020–21. The Fifteenth Finance Commission emphasised the need for strengthening the COVID-19-ravaged health sector by recommending sector-specific grants. The government did not accept the recommendation and, if we discount the health component in the local government grants, the budget allocation for the sector has increased by hardly 10% compared to the 2019–20 actuals.

Risky Insurance: The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana in Jharkhand

A ground-level survey of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana in Jharkhand reveals that the scheme nudges patients towards the private sector under the guise of free healthcare only for them to incur exorbitant expenditure over the course of treatment.

Public Health Lessons

Odisha, in spite of a poor public health system, did well in managing the pandemic in the initial month. This is on account of three reasons. It drew from its now globally recognised swift disaster preparedness and management aimed at zero casualty. It adopted a proactive, as against reactive, course, which in itself is a difficult proposition in such an uncertain and dynamic scenario. It took lessons from success stories and challenges based on happenings elsewhere.

Invest More in Public Healthcare Facilities

Data from National Sample Surveys (71st round, 2014 and 75th round, 2017–18) show that there is a significant increase in the utilisation of public facilities for both outpatient and inpatient services, across empowered action group states and non-EAG states. As a result, there is a dramatic fall in the overall financial burden on patients who would have otherwise used services of private healthcare providers. In light of this evidence, this paper argues that it is prudent to invest more directly to strengthen public healthcare delivery system in India.

Higher Disease Burden in India’s Elderly

The disease burden among the elderly population is significantly higher compared to the younger population, according to the data from the 75th round National Sample Survey, 2017–18, which increases their vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic. The footprint of elderly population in public facilities for inpatient and outpatient care has increased over the years. Financially, the elderly face far less burden in public facilities than in private facilities.

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