Is India’s healthcare infrastructure capable enough? Reports are not so well

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India’s healthcare sector is not equipped for the unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases which could turn worse, highlighting the continued lack of medical funding to build healthcare infrastructure, Fitch Solutions said on Friday.

The research and analytics company, Fitch Solutions said on Friday that India’s healthcare sector is not well equipped for the new sudden spike in COVID-19 cases. The situation is only going to get worse and the continued lack of medical funding to build healthcare infrastructure will be a big problem for India.

Within a time span of 6 days, India has recorded the fastest 1 million covid-19 cases among all countries. The daily caseload in India is rising by over 2 lakh each day consecutively since Thursday. The research and analytics by Fitch Solutions shows that despite several healthcare reforms India is still struggling to tackle the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.

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“The continued lack of medical funding and healthcare infrastructure inform our view for the potential epidemic to be worse in India if it is not adequately contained. With 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 population and 8 physicians per 10,000, the country’s healthcare sector is not equipped for such a crisis. Moreover, the significant inefficiency, dysfunctioning and acute shortage of the healthcare delivery systems in the public sector do not match up with the growing needs of the population,” Fitch Solutions said.

The data reveals that about 80% of the population still do not have any significant Health insurance coverage. On the other hand, approximately 68% of the Indian population has limited or no access to essential medical services. “The low level of public spending on health is both a cause and an exacerbating factor accounting for the poor quality, limited reach and insufficient public provisioning of healthcare. Dealing with the covid-19 pandemic has brought out the critical importance of the public sector in health provisioning,” it further added.

As of now India has administered 117 million vaccine doses but it’s still lagging far behind in immunisations per capita. When compared to states like us and the UK India is falling short. The data shows that India has inoculated one person in every 25 people whereas Britain has 1 in every two people and the United States has 1 in every 3 people. Highlighting India’s vaccine supply, Fitch Solutions said, “India’s supply issues will significantly affect emerging Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that fall within the COVAX plan.”

As of now, states like Maharashtra Delhi, Chennai, Punjab and Karnataka are among the worst hit states by the pandemic. The medical and health infrastructure ranging from oxygen to ventilators is falling short in these states due to the sudden spike in covid-19 cases. As a countermeasure, the Government of India has cleared import of Sputnik V from Russia while also agreeing to vaccine approvals to speed up the vaccination process immediately in the country.

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Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has urged PM Narendra Modi to ensure an adequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines to states. He has also requested to allow the sale of COVID-19 vaccines in the open market so that willing citizens who can afford the vaccine can avail them. The idea behind this is to make people immune to the virus as soon as possible since the vaccination drive is surely taking it’s time to reach everyone, especially people below 45.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, Patnaik wrote, “Vaccines may be made available outside the government supply chain in the open market so that willing citizens, who can afford the vaccine can avail them. This will help governments to have a focused approach towards vulnerable sections of the society.”

PM Modi is yet to answer the call but the chances of that happening is rather dim. Although, if the situation worsens, there will be no other choice but to take drastic measures.