Covid-19 exposed how weak India’s public health system is. It is not that people were not aware of earlier. The massive rush in private hospitals is a telling fact that there is a lack of trust in our public health system.
Shortage of beds, ventilators, testing kits is the new norm. We are forever short of everything essential in the healthcare sector. Yet, the expenditure on health is less than 2 per cent of GDP, which is one of the lowest in the world. Raising awareness about a disease, issuing warning signals, testing, timely detection will make the system reliable. Our approach to dealing with health issues needs drastic change. The fear needs to be replaced by awareness, support, and timely action. A complete transformation, an overhaul of the system is required to secure our future and that of our children. If the Corona crisis will not raise the alarm bells, what will?
Life is turning back to normal for many Indians. Malls, hotels, restaurants are opening up. Trains and domestic flights have resumed amidst the rising Corona cases. The numbers are frightening. The visuals, reactions are all metro centric. Think about towns, villages where there are no testing facilities and worst nobody is talking about it. There is no demand for an improved healthcare system in our remotest areas.
People have realised that nobody cares in India and they are not wrong. Government after government has shown the same attitude towards the health and education sector: those who can afford escape abroad, and those who can’t leave things to fate. We have seen how vulnerable Indians are and how much they trust the elected political leaders.
If there were no media, if there were no social media, there would be no prompt response from anyone. There is a fear of backlash from some educated sections of society. If migrants are getting buses to reach their destinations, it is because of fear.
We can’t keep patting our backs, again and again, that the world is praising our handling of the corona crisis. We have not handled it well, and we must accept it humbly. We have failed miserably. Not just India, the world has failed. Every country has failed – time to pull up the socks. Health matters the most. If this current crisis doesn’t shake us, nothing will.
It requires a joint collaboration of Public health experts, government, doctors, pharmacy companies, UN bodies dedicated to health and scientists all across the world to improve what has been the biggest failure of every government in the world. There is no point investing billions on training universities when the health system remains so weak and inadequate at handling an epidemic.
Are we better prepared than we were during Spanish flu?
I wish somebody dreamt of having a robust healthcare system in India because I believe Dreams do come true.