A Pandemic War Response Needed

Public Health is a state subject in India and we are aware that each state in India has a few hospitals (in industrial towns and state capitals in particular) that have the facilities. These hospitals are not built for 1000 percent surge, and for pandemic times. Healthcare is a sociotechnical construction; it needs skilled doctors and nurses, ventilators and oxygen cylinders as well as a caring institutional culture. Each hospital will have its own unique actor network, and during the pandemic the map mutates each hour.

Public health prior to the pandemic was a backburner issue for India. As a state subject, some states have done better than others. We preferred to spend border conflicts rather than prepare for the war within. India, has faced multiple epidemic in our history including the Surat Plague in the 1990’s. Clearly, Gujarat as a state has not learnt lessons from its contemporary medical history. Maharashtra, as a site for the 1897 Bombay Plague seemed to have forgotten the past. The risk of forgetting lessons from history, leads to repeating them at severe costs as the cliché goes.

Our social media feeds for the first time in recent memory have turned into buffering obituaries. Just look at a Twitter feed and all that one can sense is helplessness. I have lost many Aunts and Uncles over the past few months including a health scare in the immediate family this week. Sitting far away from home is a case study for anxiety and stress in the midst of submissions.

There is another migrant crisis underway, however as the last episode they will return as home is is where the work is. The silver lining is the preparedness of non profits and community actors to deliver services and support at the level of the micro everyday. There is a palpable anger against the powers of the day and it is legitimate. But, we need a cohesive response as polity. Please leave the politics for later, we need to save lives now.

And let us build hospitals, and the medical infrastructure on a war mode. Do not forget the priorities in pandemic peace time for Big Boss.

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