When people started traveling around the globe, the prevalence of infectious diseases has also gradually increased. Outbreaks have often occurred but not every outbreak crosses a global pandemic stage as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has. Pandemics are large-scale infectious disease outbreaks with a high morbidity and mortality burden over a wide geographic region and have major economic consequences.
Globalization, with increased global migration and travel, urbanization, and greater degradation of the natural world, has led to a rapid spread of pandemics, with COVID-19 becoming the deadliest of all to date experienced in our lives.
COVID-19 Pandemic has strained the health-care system of even the most industrialized countries and is predicted to trigger an unprecedented economic recession in recent history. COVID-19 affects health care networks around the world. The growing demand for health care services and health care staff is threatening to leave some health systems overworked and unable to function.
COVID-19 shows how vulnerable many of the global health systems and programs are, pushing countries to make tough decisions on how to react effectively to their people’s needs. An outbreak of that magnitude needs to deal with a certain infrastructure. No nation, developed or developing, has this kind of infrastructure. Covid-19 has revealed the structures of the developed countries. From vital supply transportation to health care services, almost everything is affected in all the countries.
How did India respond to the pandemic?
India’s answer to the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worlds most comprehensive and is based on data from 73 nations. India got a perfect score of 100 on the “Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT)” aimed at monitoring and comparing government responses to coronavirus outbreak worldwide, reliably.
The Indian government has been swift at the very first level to enable its health management system and issue appropriate travel advisories. Screening of all travelers from affected countries coming into India was initiated as early as January 2020. Even when a person reported no symptoms, at-home visits and phone calls helped government machinery to monitor and verify their progress for the next two weeks.
Some of the well-structured plans include careful airport inspection, health laboratories, and quick quarantine establishment across the country. The Government’s strategy was to stick to the model of ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Here is how the pandemic and its effects have affected India’s healthcare scenario:
- Fast-tracking of public health emergency targets within the National Disaster Management Plan
- Community Hygiene awareness will have a positive long-term impact, although it is likely to increase the burden on PHC in the short term
- Lack of care for patients with other conditions, particularly short-term chronic diseases, can lead to long-term healthcare burdens
- Strengthening government infrastructure and public-private partnerships over the next few years but a major realignment will be seen in the near-term ongoing plans
- Internalization of the pharmaceutical supply chain and focus on the production of medical equipment in India (Make in India).
- Medical tourism, at least for the short term, will continue to see a downtrend
- Increased utilization of technology, telemedicine, primary health workers training, and mobile hospitals
Recognizing the growing need for hospitals across the country, several innovative approaches are being explored, the most recent of which is the transformation of train coaches into isolation wards to make mobile hospitals that can be taken to locations across the country as per the necessity. Even though mobile hospitals were brought up in the 2019 NDMP, this idea arose out of necessity. It has the added advantage of being able to move to different locations and is much quicker and reliable than road transport. If built on, this flexible concept has the potential to substantially supplement the healthcare infrastructure. So, as we face this humongous challenge and concentrate on navigating through with minimal harm to human life, there are prospects for change in the country’s healthcare scenario to be unraveled.