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WHO and Centre on Health infrastructure

Context:

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that the nation’s health infrastructure has increased up to 45-fold to brace successive waves of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised countries in the South-East Asia region to scale up and rigorously implement public health and social measures, along with efforts to accelerate vaccination for COVID-19, to prevent another surge, as more countries confirmed prevalence of highly transmissible variants of concern.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues, Government Policies regarding Health Infrastructure)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India’s Current Healthcare System under strain
  2. Improvement in Health infrastructure in India
  3. WHO on implementing public health, social measures
  4. World Health Organization (WHO)

India’s Current Healthcare System under strain

  • While those involved in the clinical response are clearly doing their often-desperate best — care staff are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 — the Central and State governments are now coordinating measures within and across their respective jurisdictions. For example, the railways are running special trains carrying oxygen supplies, and the military is also involved in supply chains.
  • The Supreme Court has, suo motu, called for a national plan to deliver oxygen and vaccines.
  • The responses to the worsening COVID-19 crisis are, nevertheless, not free of tensions.
  • India’s fragmented clinics, hospitals, and variably functional primary health centres are plagued with various issues like corruption and underfunding along with being urban-centred and elite-focused.
  • India’s public spending on health is set to double in the 2021-22 financial year, but that is from a figure that has long been only a little over 1% of GDP.
  • In certain rural areas, the doctor-population ratio is over 1:40,000.
  • Medical expenses constitute the major reason for personal debt in India, whether the causes are episodic afflictions or, for example, those caused by environmental conditions which none can escape, such as air pollution.

Improvement in Health infrastructure in India

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that the total ICU beds had increased by 45-fold from a baseline 2,500 to more than 1.1 lakh.
  • The total isolation beds (excluding ICU beds) have climbed 42-fold from 41,000 to over 17 lakhs.
  • The government said over 1.5 lakh health personnel have been engaged including medical officers, specialists, staff nurses, community volunteers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and ASHA facilitators along with other support staffs.
  • The affidavit said insurance coverage was given to more than 22 lakh heath workers, including ASHAs fighting COVID-19.
  • The Centre had further enhanced the ceiling limit for expenditure of State Disaster Response Fund from 35% to 50% in 2020-21 for States to finance COVID-19 containment measures.

WHO on implementing public health, social measures

  • A WHO statement said that the public health and social measures were part of a wide range of non-pharmaceutical interventions, both individual and societal, and were cost-effective measures to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and save lives.
  • WHO advised countries in the South-East Asia region to scale up and rigorously implement public health and social measures, along with efforts to accelerate vaccination for COVID-19.
  • A risk-based approach is needed for public health and social measures which should be implemented by the lowest administrative level and continuously adjusted to the intensity of transmission and the capacity of health systems.
  • The capacity of health systems includes both clinical care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19, and public health services such as case detection, diagnostic testing and contact tracing.

World Health Organization (WHO)

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Its main objective is ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
  • The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well-being.
  • The World Health Assembly (WHA), composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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