GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services Relating to Health
Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 was no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
When was it declared PHEIC?
COVID-19 was announced as a ‘PHEIC’ by the WHO on January 30, 2020.
What is the current status of COVID-19?
It has acquired the status of other endemic diseases (from the pandemic). India reached the COVID-19 endemic stage a year ago.
Trends during COVID-19 spread in India:
- ‘COVID deniers’ at the beginning of the pandemic: Resulted in the spiking of the COVID-19 cases in India.
- Misinformation during the 2nd wave: A third wave in India would affect children resulting in the deprivation of schooling and learning of children.
- Policy interventions missed factoring in the local context: Local context determines the epidemiological pattern, spread of disease and proposed interventions.
Lessons from COVID Pandemic that India must embrace and implement:
- Invest in healthcare (HC) infrastructure.
- India needs National HC Services Regulatory Authority: To check rampant black marketing of critical drugs, artificial shortage and discrepancies in the cost of the same.
- India needs more doctors, paramedics and hospitals.
- Revamp Primary health centres with the PPP model.
- Bring the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under PMO to enhance proficiency in predicting future pandemics.
- Better pay and training of ASHA workers: They played a critical role in creating awareness in rural India – allaying fake apprehensions regarding vaccines.
- Fight disinformation in mission mode.
- A strategic reserve of critical medicines.
Steps taken by India towards Covid-19 prevention:
- Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Surveillance Consortium (INSACOG) for genomic sequencing and tracking the evolution of variant strains of SARS-CoV-2.
- The National Biopharma Mission (NBM) and the Ind-CEPI Mission have enabled the strengthening of the national vaccine development ecosystem.
- Mission COVID Suraksha was launched as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 for promoting the R&D of Indian COVID-19 vaccines.
Some best practices in India:
- “Har Ghar Dastak” campaign: Aims at awareness, mobilisation and vaccination of all eligible beneficiaries.
- Training of healthcare professionals: The Government of India has utilised the iGOT (Integrated Government Online Training) platform to train various personnel.
- COVID-19 has ‘officially’ transitioned from a population-level challenge to more of an individual health concern.
- The government should offer formal training courses in epidemiology to prepare India for future outbreaks and epidemics and to curb misinformation.
- Integrate the COVID-19 response to general health services. There is no role for universal measures against COVID-19 to be enforced.
- It is time to drop the COVID-19 fixation and move on to tackle other more pressing health challenges in the country.
With COVID-19 ‘over’, applying the lessons learnt
Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (UPSC 2020)
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2022)
- In the context of vaccines manufactured to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following statements:
- The Serum Institute of India produced a COVID-19 vaccine named Covishield using mRNA platform.
- Sputnik V vaccine is manufactured using a vector-based platform.
- COVAXIN is an inactivated pathogen-based vaccine.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3