Does India Have Adequate Resources To Respond To Covid-19?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

The global epidemic of the coronavirus has sparked fear in the minds of people. According to data released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it will take approximately 18 months to develop a vaccine for the virus. COVID-19 is claimed to display its symptoms about five days after it has affected an individual. In fatal cases, individuals have incurred damage to their physiological well-being due to weak immune systems. Hence, it is likely to impact the health of infants, elders, as well as those with an existing ailment, and poor individuals drastically.

With close to 63 centres, India has been unsuccessful in testing a significant number of coronavirus cases. The World Health Organization has urged all nations to ensure that a large number of people are tested. As of now, India is conducting tests on 90 people a day, despite having the capacity to test about 8,000 people.

Dr Balram Bharghava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research. Image courtesy to The Week/Arvind Jain.

As per Balaram Bharghava, the head of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is currently in a “premature” state and community transmission has not been observed yet. As a result of this conviction, it is possible to have a greater number of cases veiled under the data present on account of the statistical record. 

In China, the government built a 1600-bed hospital within a span of 11 to 12 days. This is primarily because their investing capacity in healthcare infrastructure has been well disbursed. The Chinese government has resorted to a scientific-based protocol in providing its citizens with access to the basic and requisite healthcare facilities. It has managed to test about 320,000 people.

Currently, being on lockdown, China has managed to curb or rather limit the number of growing cases of coronavirus within its territorial confinements. Similarly, South Korea has tested 250,000 people. Hence, there is a huge disparity in the number of tests that are conducted on a population of 1.37 billion. So far, only 14,175 people have been tested in India.

Unfortunately, the basis of testing individuals is very selective. Patients who have travelled overseas are granted the privilege of being tested, while the others who might be eliciting similar symptoms are unable to avail the rudimentary medical facilities to do so. Furthermore, there is less than one doctor per 1445 population

The lack of sufficient resources to develop a substantial number of hospitals by entailing reasonable medical facilities has created a problem of accessibility for disease-prone individuals. The virus cannot be curtailed under such circumstances. And in consequence of this, we are made to question whether our nation can generate adequate healthcare facilities, and make it available to those who need them? 

So far, only 14,175 people have been tested in India.

Social distancing may eliminate the scope of the spread of the virus. However, it is not enough to compensate for the lack of ample means to move towards the progression of developing robust medical facilities and making them accessible for all in an equitable manner.

One way to understand the risk of growth in the virus is to trace the trajectory of its outbreak on a global scale. Consequently, it also becomes essential to know that its extension is exponential. Thus, the more cases we hear about, the higher is the panic. Therefore, in such dire times, it is crucial to generate a sense of concern over the fright and inculcate authentic values of solidarity, while expressing the indispensable need of taking precautionary measures as recommended by the public healthcare officials. This way, we may be able to become a part of the solution, and that too, as a community.

Sign this petition to demand expanding of screening beyond government hospitals, to pre-empt the disease from becoming an epidemic.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it is our duty to keep ourselves informed, take care of our own health, and wash our hands! Some simple measures that we must follow include social distancing, covering our mouth when coughing and sneezing, washing one's hands regularly, and avoid crowded places, and self-quarantine! The helpline provided by the government is +91-11-23978046. Here are some resources that the WHO and the Health Ministry have created. Remember, prevention, and not panic, will see us through this!
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