As India begins to gradually find its feet after a debilitating second wave of the dreaded Coronavirus, it is just as important to look back as it is to look forward. And in looking back, public health policy expert Dr Chandrakant Lahariya believes that in not standardising our systems, India may have worsened things after the first wave.
“The focus was only on increasing beds and ventilators, testing and so on. The concept of a health system was not fully understood it was a great opportunity and India faltered. During the period of low transmission, between November 2020 and February 2021, nothing was done to standardise health systems and we have seen the effect of that. That is one lesson for the third wave and the period ahead,” he said while in conversation with Senior Journalist Kaveree Bamzai at TNIE’s COVID Think Tank that aired on June 15.
Talking about why the short-term approach actually led to a lot of chaos during the second wave, Lahariya explained, “There was some attention paid to ventilators, testing kits and PPE but nothing major to boost health system capacity. Most of it was focused on temporary care centres that were dismantled by January. Secondly, it was dependent on private sector participation like converting banquet halls or hotel rooms into (hospital) beds. But only on an ad hoc basis.
We should have strengthened capacity by then. We know that much of the response came from the private sector and we know how much people have suffered by paying. It’s a result of insufficient attention and action. If governments don’t act now, the question is, when will they?”