NEW DELHI: The editorial in one of the world’s leading medical journal 'The Lancet' has strongly criticized the massive nationwide lockdown in India--adopted in order to contain COVID-19 pandemic--suggesting that it has caused hardships, hunger and misery to millions of the most vulnerable people in the country.
Citing the example of the misinformation campaign run around Tablighi Jamaat, the piece also said that the pandemic has been used to “fan anti-Muslim sentiment” adding that one threat to the COVID-19 response in India is the spread of misinformation driven by fear, stigma, and blame.
Pointing out at the recent mass exodus of migrant workers during the lockdown and concerns rising about starvation among people who work in the informal economy, the Lancet said, “The government’s sudden enforcement of the lockdown seemed hastily prepared and immediately disadvantaged already vulnerable populations".
The Lancet highlighted that government’s efforts to provide financial support and a measure of food security to ease these pressures will be insufficient to meet demand, but better planning and communication could have helped avert this crisis.
Similarly, non-COVID 19 health services have been disrupted as India’s public health-care system is chronically underfunded --at just 1·28 per cent of GDP, leaving primary care weak--it noted
The editorial however also pointed out that in India’s favour is its young population (65 per cent aged below 35 years) and, to date, the country has seen a less severe outbreak than was feared, and the lockdown could be already having the desired effect of flattening the curve.