The past two years of the pandemic have really tested the resilience and resolve of the human spirit. At the forefront, healthcare workers witnessed the horrors brought forth by COVID-19 firsthand. It made us realize collectively that our healthcare ecosystem is a lifeline and not something that we can take for granted. The fact remains that until the pandemic, health hasn’t been a big priority in the Indian context.
While being under immense pressure, the healthcare ecosystem in India and across the world has been forced to evolve drastically. In the Indian context, it has been a wake-up call to deliver better healthcare infrastructure and leverage technology for better healthcare outcomes.
The 4th Edition of The Economic Times Doctors Day Conclave 2021 is a platform that commemorates the contribution of front-line healthcare workers. It has been designed by ET Edge in association with Medwiz Healthcare Communications as the Knowledge Partner.
Speaking at the conclave, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, South-East Asia, World Health Organization highlights that the crisis has also fostered health innovations. She states that India’s commitment is reflected in the April 2020 adoption of the epidemic disease amendment ordinance. More than 87% of health workers are vaccinated with at least one dose. There is a need to invest in strengthening the health workforce; in addition to numbers, investments must be targeted towards health workforce distribution, which is crucial when outbreaks like this occur. En-masse, we must embrace health innovations that enhance health equity-like telemedicine, which has significantly helped in the past year.
Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate asserts that health must become a fundamental right and innovative health solutions are the need of the hour. He observes that doctors & healthcare workers are not only the saviours of numerous lives but they have proven that they are real leaders and human beings. They have worked & are still working with a divine power round the clock, without any sleep. Doctors represent life in the truest sense and portray the image of God by improving lives. This pandemic has not only been a health crisis but also an economic crisis and has been a major challenge for modern civilization. Presently, we need to have a separate provision in the constitution for making health a fundamental right. We need to come up with innovative solutions & a stronger preparedness for the current pandemic.
However, a robust healthcare response isn’t possible unless there is a greater degree of collaboration among key stakeholders. Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative India, UNICEF, places emphasis on providing the best care for children. She highlights that there is a pertinent need to join forces and act now. UNICEF in India with its collaborations and partners has provided aid to 4,00,000 children, parents and caretakers in 17 states in the previous year. The role of the community is crucial in this situation but it’s our responsibility to provide the best care and aid for children in this situation.
While we must prepare better, we must also remember and commemorate the many sacrifices and contributions made by healthcare workers. Sudha Murthy, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation, avers that being a doctor is great social work. She observes that doctors do not cut calls or keep their phones on mute while working round the clock. They make a great contribution to society. 1200 doctors lost their lives during the pandemic. They are no less than our soldiers and these doctors are martyrs. All the nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers’ efforts are priceless and the recognition that they get is certainly important.
Dr. Ambrish Mithal, Padma Bhushan & Dr. BC Roy National Award Winner, Chairman & Head – Max Institute of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Max Healthcare, places emphasis on the various factors that determine healthcare outcomes. He observes that diabetes and NCDs play a very important role in determining the outcomes of COVID in patients. Insulin therapy, glucose monitoring, and other aspects of healthcare have been a challenge in the past year. If we are to look at pandemics in the future, we must use this experience of COVID to reboot our NCD program, to make sure that people with diabetes and hypertension are well managed. In managing chronic care, digital technology and telemedicine did make a big difference in the previous year.
In many ways, the pandemic has been a learning curve. We have come to realize the need-gaps that exist in healthcare infrastructure. Despite the myriad challenges, the crisis has enabled the rapid evolution and growth of India’s healthcare sector. It has set an effective healthcare mandate for the future.