(Sansad TV: Perspective)
Dec 27: Fighting Epidemics – https://youtu.be/eEcH4yNdVL0
- GS-2- Health
- GS 3 – Economy; Disaster Management
Context: 27th December marked the second International Day of Epidemic Preparedness – aims to promote international awareness and action on the prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics.
- This year would mark the second year that this day is observed, after the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness was marked in 2020 based on a call for it made by the United Nations General Assembly.
- It is important for us to stay aware of the fact how infectious diseases can sweep across the world, push health systems to the brink and devastate lives and families.
- The havoc caused by Covid-19 reflects that the world learnt no lessons from outbreaks like Ebola, Zika, SARS and others.
A glimpse through major pandemics of the world which caused huge loss to life:
|The Plague of Justinian||
|Smallpox (15th – 17th centuries)||
|Cholera (1817 – 1823)||
|Spanish Flu or H1N1 (1918 – 1919)||
|Hong Kong Flu or H3N2 (1968 – 1970)||
|HIV/AIDS (1981 – present)||
|SARS (2002 – 2003)||
|Swine Flu or H1N1 (2009 – 2010)||
|Ebola (2014 – 2016)||
|Coronavirus, or COVID-19 (2019 – present)||
Prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics
A lack of international attention on this need would result in future pandemics surpassing previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity. Preparedness for epidemics is important to prevent the healthcare structures across the world from collapsing under the increased burden that usually accompanies epidemics.
- Conduct surveillance at points of entry into the country, like border crossings, ports and airports to identify people coming from affected countries and suffering from fever or any other symptom of the disease in question. Such people should be then sent to the nearest health unit.
- The health authorities to prepare personnel and Rapid Response teams to undertake surveillance within the community and investigate any outbreak
- ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and its designated labs to test predetermined clinical samples of fever cases to be tested for COVID.
- Strengthen the infrastructure needed to develop vaccines via academia-industry interface, while also supporting skill development as well as capacity building.
- Strengthening internal inter-ministerial co-ordination for rapid vaccine development and testing to address known and unknown infectious disease threats
- Strengthening of development frameworks, surveillance and logistics for use of new vaccines, where appropriate.
India has been able to delay, if not entirely defy, a third wave of the pandemic with the help of a strong vaccination drive across the country, and is hoping to ensure that such quick vaccine development can be undertaken for any potential epidemic at a later stage as well, which can be a strong point in India’s epidemic preparedness.
On the other hand, the second wave of coronavirus exposed several shortcomings of the healthcare sector in the country, with beds, medicines as well as oxygen falling short of the demand. Though it is true that the magnitude of the second wave was unprecedentedly high, it is also true that healthcare systems across the country fell short by a wide margin.
As we respond to this health crisis, we need to prepare for the next one.
- Scaling-up investments in better monitoring, early detection and rapid response plans in every country — especially the most vulnerable
- Strengthening primary health care at the local level to prevent collapse
- Ensuring equitable access to lifesaving interventions like vaccines for all people
- Achieving Universal Health Coverage
- Building global solidarity to give every country a fighting chance to stop infectious diseases in their tracks.
The coronavirus pandemic will not be the last one that humanity will face; therefore there is a need for immediate, coordinated action by the world to prepare for future health emergencies.
Can you answer the following questions?
- Is the learning curve for India over? Is India prepared to handle the third wave?
- Discuss the shortcomings that India experienced while dealing with the second wave of Covid-19.