India has showcased remarkable ability in handling the current COVID crisis. From scaling up the health infrastructure to imposing lockdowns and following scientific advice, the current crisis has shown that India can act with speed and intent. But, the crisis has not ended and there is still the burden of existing disease conditions such as HIV, TB, Diabetes, Cardiac issues, and more, that need attention. Further, we are about to enter the monsoon season where diseases such as dengue and malaria emerge which will further stress the health system. How can we build a resilient public health system with systems, processes, scientific knowledge, and protocols to deal with ongoing healthcare threats?
These are many mountains to climb in this process.
Firstly, we need more people in healthcare. This includes not just medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, but epidemiologists, physiotherapists, front line health workers, technicians, and more. Further, there is an urgent need to build skills and capacity in front line workers to make the changes that are essential to scale up. This also means access to not just one-time training but imparting regular knowledge and skills to deal with situations as they emerge.
Secondly, we need better data. Data that gives actionable insights and can be used for quick decision making and interventions. This is no easy task as the sources of data are many – hospitals, pharmacies, medical devices, labs, contact tracing applications, insurance, and more. In the medical system, there is a huge need for interoperability of data between hospitals, labs, healthcare institutions, and pharmacies. Further data stored by medical devices is seldom shared by the equipment providers. This data is of tremendous importance for research and data sharing norms and protocols are needed urgently.
Thirdly, we need a way of managing scale and managing costs. A resilient public health system needs strong management expertise. The time has come to realize the administrative and management gaps in our healthcare system and provide access to people in need- financially and geographically.
About the author
Namrata Rana is the Director Brand & Strategy, Futurescape, whose work focuses on building ESG strategy and transformation through customer journey mapping and leadership workshops. She writes extensively in various publications and has co-authored BALANCE – Responsible business for the digital age.