India’s fight against COVID - the Success Story

-- Anamika T.K, 4-E, Indian learners’ Own Academy

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed us to a health and humanitarian crisis where gaps in healthcare systems, government policies and personal behaviour have pushed us to a point where our Right to Life has been threatened. A collaborative effort between the government, civil society organizations and individuals is the only way to overcome this unprecedented crisis, co-creating a future where every child enjoys life in all its fullness. At the beginning of the year, India seemed to be winning the battle against the pandemic with daily cases as low as 9,000 in February, but it was only a brief triumphant euphoria.

The devastating second wave of the pandemic, caused by more virulent strains (both imported and indigenous), abandonment of COVID-19 protocols by a large population, and ‘super-spreader’ mass gatherings, has stretched India’s long-underfunded healthcare system. In a short span of eight weeks, India’s daily caseloads reached an average of over 300,000 cases per day, with a new record of daily infections on 6 May, and with only a little over 2% of the 1.3 billion population fully vaccinated, the danger of more numbers of people getting infected and further possible COVID-19 waves looms large over India and its healthcare system.The national lockdown was tightly enforced and has been described as one of the harshest in the world. Since late June, the lockdown has been lifted in stages and has transitioned to state-level lockdowns that have been largely reactive to local caseloads at any given time. Some form of restrictions on movement exists in most states. However, universal adherence to masking and social distancing has been difficult to enforce, and compliance has varied across states and districts.

With 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 people and eight physicians per 10,000 patients, the country’s healthcare sector is highly under-equipped to effectively respond to the existing and impending crisis. Many incidences like Ashmitha’s will continue to echo across India if we do not address this emergency on a war footing. Hospitals in India are currently running short of beds, oxygen and overstretched healthcare staff.

In the initial phase of the second wave, the cities were the worst affected, but now the caseloads are quickly rising in rural India. This is a major cause of concern as the healthcare infrastructure in the rural areas are inadequately equipped to deal with a pandemic of this scale, pushing the rural population to seek medical attention in the cities, further exacerbating the healthcare system in the urban areas. The Indian constitution guarantees Right to Life for all citizens and this very right is threatened by the crisis, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of society. The government of India has already called the civil society organizations to join hands in fighting this pandemic so that this constitutional right is guarded.

We should stay together to overcome such pandemics in the future.

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