GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY/ ETHICS
Topic: General Studies 3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Behavioural Economics
COVID-19: Need for a Social Vaccine
What is a social vaccine?
- A social vaccine is a metaphor for a series of social and behavioural measures that governments can use to raise public consciousness about unhealthy situations through social mobilisation
- A social vaccine addresses barriers and facilitators of behaviour change, whether attitudinal, social, cultural, or economic.
- Social Vaccine supplements information, education, and communication (IEC) with targeted social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) strategies.
Advantages of Social Vaccine achieved through Social Mobilization
- Empowers populations to resist unhealthy practices
- Increase resilience
- Foster advocacy for change
- Drive political will to take action in the interests of society
- Hold governments accountable
Lessons from HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) Pandemic
- HIV that causes AIDS is believed to have made the zoonotic jump from monkeys through chimpanzees to humans in Africa as early as the 1920s
- However, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was detected in 1981 & was a pandemic by 1985.
- Extent of Pandemic: From 1981 to 2018, around 74.9 million people worldwide were HIV-infected, and around 32.0 million died from AIDS-related illnesses.
- Social vaccine helped “flatten the curve” till effective treatments were discovered that dramatically reduced mortality, viral loads and infection transmission.
How Social Vaccine was used in HIV/AIDS pandemic?
- There were widespread information campaigns stating that infection occurred predominantly through sexual transmission and intravenous drug use.
- IEC and SBCC activities targeted (and partnered) individuals, community networks, leaders, social & health systems to change attitudes and behaviours.
- The core preventive messages involved
- Being faithful to one sexual partner
- 100% condom use during sexual intercourse outside stable relationships
- Resisting peer-pressure for risky behaviours like intravenous drug use
- Religious and community leaders were key change agents
- For example, the Catholic Church in Uganda did not initially support promoting condoms since its use prevents life.
- However, later they acknowledged that their religion did not preclude the use of condoms to prevent deaths – which was an important turning point
How Social Vaccine can be adapted for current pandemic?
- Effective IEC and SBCC strategies should contain the persuasive messages of
- Maintaining physical distancing in social situations
- Wearing cloth masks in public by 100% of people (and 100% of the time)
- Regular disinfection of oneself and one’s surroundings.
- Leading by Example: People are more likely to practise these behaviours if all leaders promote them publicly and consistently
- Proper information, support, and materials should be made available and accessible.
- Re-purposing and funding relevant industries and small and medium businesses to produce materials such as PPE, hand sanitisers and medical equipment
- The components of the social vaccine should be in place before relaxing or lifting the lockdown.
- A social vaccine also requires people to hold leaders accountable to
- Invest in rapidly scaling-up testing
- Meet the basic and economic needs of vulnerable sections
- Providing psychological support where needed
- Not communalising or politicising the pandemic
- Not compromising the privacy and dignity of infected individuals and their families in the interest of public health
Connecting the dots:
- Persuasive VS Coercive methods – which is better suited for India? And why?
- Nudge Economics – Example: Give It Up Campaign, Swachh Bharat Mission