Rebuilding Public Healthcare Infrastructure
The ongoing second wave of Covid-19 has left People fending for themselves— something that they never knew how to do, and something that was never their business. The shortage of critical health infrastructure has been exposed openly.
The most appropriate action plan right now would be to prepare a roadmap for the third wave.
Probable issues that will arise in case of third wave-
- fast ascending infections in rural areas dominated by poor medical infrastructure,
- the shortage of vaccines and the expected year-long timeframe to vaccinate all eligible individuals,
- vaccine hesitancy, constraints on sourcing of ingredients needed to make vaccines,
- deadlier variants of the virus,
- the ominous possibility of the virus impacting children,
- the inadequate healthcare infrastructure for dealing with such a situation, and so on.
- Strengthening, and refurbishing the local public health centres (PHCs), and creating many more temporary Covid/intensive care units.
Emphasis should be on-
- Ability to cater to local population within a radius of 15 km in urban areas and 25 km in rural areas.
- To equip them with all emergency medical care except for rare occurrences
- Enhancing the capacity of these via public-private partnership model.
All this can help in reducing fatalities.
- District headquarters should be the epicenter of such decentralized program to coordinate, facilitate, and organise all activities.
- A managing group can be created, comprising representatives from various related departments and organisations at the district level.
It can involve participation of community members, social activists, and NGOs. The managing group should be headed by the district magistrate or his senior nominee.
District managing group can be given special administrative and financial powers to deliver prompt and uninterrupted services. These may include-
- To notify and commandeer all or listed medical care centres within the district territory, public or private, to provide notified medical services during the public health emergency.
- To make all logistics arrangements well in advance by engaging public and private assets.
- Develop medical centres with required specialisation services and the capacity in anticipation of the demand.
- To maintain and upgrade existing (PHCs), ensuring, particularly in rural areas, replacements for missing medical officers, engaging additional medical and technical staff through innovative sources. Simultaneously, upgrading and using the healthcare apparatus of institutions like municipal bodies, and panchayats, and drawing on the support of anganwadi workers, and specially hired volunteers.
- To declare containment zones, and to also ensure that citizens meticulously abide by the precautionary advisories and instructions.
- To tackle cases of leakage, black-marketing of essential medical supplies.
- To fix priorities and place special focus on rural areas in terms of speedy testing, tracing and vaccinating.
- To keep the general populace informed daily of the medical and other facilities available.
- And to meet daily to ensure clearing of bottlenecks and to course-correct if needed.
- Every state/ UT at macro level should develop an action plan, in view of its challenges, and in consonance with the public health programme laid down by the Centre.
The state/ UT should constitute an exclusive public health emergency cell, comprising senior officials from all related departments, to be the focal point of decision making. State governments should also share information and progress through dashboards and other technology tools, and invite suggestions.
- Perfect administration- Each state should ensure that a capable implementing administration is driven by passionate team leaders. No bureaucratic rules should be allowed to obstruct the missionary spirit required here.
A bottom-up approach will not only help blunt any possible surge in the Covid wave but will also build the much-needed health infrastructure. India should not miss this opportunity to strengthen its healthcare system.
Question- Enlist various administrative measures which can help in ensuring a dedicated and effective fight against the pandemic.