23rd Nov 2020 10:11:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

Although there were tall claims by various stakeholders that the country’s response to Covid-19 pandemic has been faultless, the report titled ‘Outbreak of Pandemic Covid-19 and its Management’ submitted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health on Saturday tells a different story. Among a number of loopholes on which the report has thrown light, inadequacy beds in government hospitals and absence of specific treatment guidelines that gave private hospitals ample scope to charge exorbitant fees will definitely be a cause of discomfort for those who have been striving hard to construct the ‘all well’ narrative. This in fact, has echoed the allegations and discontent of lakhs of people who faced the ‘realities’ and it needs to be watched closely if the Union Health Ministry takes it seriously and rolls out initiatives as rectification processes.
A telling aspect of the report is that it has tried to dig out the root cause of the ‘failure’ in battling Covid and unsurprisingly, miniscule national spending on healthcare, an unmistakable feature in annual budgets irrespective of governments in power has been cited. Giving a wake-up call, the committee has urged the government to increase investments in public healthcare system and launch consistent efforts to achieve the National Health Policy target of expenditure up to 2.5% of GDP within two years from now instead of the 2025 deadline. It needs recalling that NHP 2017 has set a target of government expenditure on healthcare up to 2.5 % of GDP by 2025 from 1.15 % in 2017. While observing that the pandemic was a sort of bolt from the blue for those families who were infected by the virus resulting in pushing them below the poverty line all of a sudden, the report has been critical of government’s handling of the public healthcare delivery apparatus, with specific mentioning of OPDs in hospitals which remained shut during lockdown(s). That the women have been the first-hand sufferers has been mentioned in the report also. Without mincing words it has asserted that many deaths due to Covid could have been averted if there was a sustainable pricing model to treat Covid patients and the government should have rolled out more result-oriented strategies by entering into partnership with private hospitals under the PPP model. Mistreatment of ASHA workers engaged in contact tracing through denial of wages even though being the “foot soldiers of the healthcare system” has also been included in the report, besides the worry at the use of less reliable diagnostic tests which increased the chances of false negatives.
The report is a comprehensive document as along with touching all the aspects of the country’s Covid response, it has thrown light on the solutions as well. It should be viewed as a wake-up call rather than a criticism.

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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