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Health system in India

Mains-GS2-Social Justice

Critical weaknesses in the country’s health system can hinder a credible strategy to combat COVID-19.

Why is the states’ coordination needed?

1. The reach of the epidemic in India is not clear as only a small number of people have been tested and many mild cases go undetected.

2. The efficiency and success-estimation of India’s ongoing efforts to control COVID-19 are unknown.

3. There are regional or sub-regional disease hotspots emerging rather than a nationwide outbreak in India.

4. The higher number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are confirmed in states such as Kerala and Maharashtra.

5. It highlights the importance of approaching India’s COVID-19 response from the perspective of the State health system capacity.

6. States which experience a COVID-19 hotspot are unlikely to have the resources to manage the outbreak independently.

7. So, it is critically important to put in place well-functioning between-State and within-State coordination mechanisms.

8. It will enable efficient leveraging of resources such as doctors, nurses, equipment, supplies from elsewhere and direct them to regional or sub-regional hotspots.

Where do we need to focus?

1. Addressing the scarcity of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) beds in India is critical for providing clinical support to severe COVID-19 cases.

2. India has around 70 hospital beds and 2.3 ICU beds per 100,000 people. It is less in comparison to other nations.

3. India’s current hospital capacity is so low that it can be quickly overwhelmed if infections surge.

4. So, India should ensure enhanced hospital and ICU capacity, essential equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment for health workers.

What are the concerns of Health workers?

1. Health-care workers are generally exposed to infections because of a shortage of quality medical equipment.

2. India faces an acute shortage of skilled health workforce with around 3.4 qualified doctors and 3.2 nurses and midwives per 10,000 population.

3. Health workers in India are mostly concentrated in urban areas and there are huge disparities between States.

4. Health workers also face physical and mental exhaustion that affects their morale.

How to tackle the disease?

1. Extending current hospital capacity

2. Mobile hospital trains

3. Converting university dormitories into treatment centers.

4. Tapping the resources in the private sector.

5. Engaging private hospitals in planning and coordination

6. Engaging a variety of health-care workers such as Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy doctors, etc.

Source- The Hindu