Every year, swine flu takes lives in some part of the country.
A Ministry of Health and Family Welfare report, released on February 11, states that 1022 people have tested positive so far in 2018. Rajasthan carries the burden of having the highest number of positive cases (871), followed by Jammu & Kashmir (27). Other states include Gujarat (16), Madhya Pradesh (7 with two deaths), Haryana (13 with two deaths), Delhi (19 with one death) and Uttar Pradesh (10 with one death).
Delhi had 2,835 positive cases and 12 deaths in 2017. This would suggest that a health emergency-like situation cannot be ruled out, even though the government claims that it is ready for any challenging situation. It also needs to be understood here that public health is very much linked to the policy of the government, especially for the poor and vulnerable sections of our population.
Most of those who succumbed to the disease are children, the elderly, pregnant women or people with chronic lung disease. Public awareness becomes crucial at this point coupled with health intervention, which should be prompt and targeted.
India has seen improvements in various parameters of health. Yet, it cannot claim to be a healthy nation. The reason is simple to understand – expenditure on health is not matching the requirement. The promised ‘Modicare‘ scheme of providing insurance cover to 100 million households appears promising, but what about the current state of health infrastructure at the rural level?
Primary health is the most important level where a person first approaches, but here, we have failed miserably as a system. Shortage of doctors, non-availability of medicines, the nexus of private hospitals with the government are some of the challenges before us. Before any disease becomes an epidemic, the state is duty-bound to act.
Checking prices of medical tests during disease spreading season is crucial. We have seen in the past with dengue and swine flu how diagnostic labs increase their charges and make profits instead of serving people. Only a healthy population can be a productive population. Therefore, investment in health is crucial, as it will bring out a huge number of people from below the poverty line.
Out-of-pocket expenses are devastating many lives. Hence, state support becomes crucial. A nation is remembered and will be remembered for its people and their contribution to nation building. Health and education are fundamental for any nation, so they must be heavily invested in for a better tomorrow.