In response to the alarming resurgence of COVID in the country, The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System has proposed eight urgent recommendations that are focused on the immediate steps central and state governments must take to help curtail the loss of life and suffering caused by the pandemic.
Among the key recommendations include establishing central systems to procure and distribute COVID vaccines free of cost instead of the current policy of decentralised procurement through state governments.
The commission which was launched in December last year, comprises of 21 experts, with the aim of laying out a roadmap to achieving universal health coverage in India over the next decade.
Other measures suggested by the members include: a transparent national pricing policy and caps on the prices of all essential health services, and evidence-based information on the management of COVID be widely disseminated, including guidance on what not to do.
The commission also suggests that all available human resources, including the private sector, must be marshalled for the COVID-19 response and adequately resourced and supported, community engagement and public participation must lie at the heart of India’s COVID-19 response, with no restrictions on civil society organizations to access resources, transparency and sharing of government data to enable districts to proactively prepare for the likely caseloads in the coming weeks and surveillance needs to include urgent investment in genomic sequencing.
Finally, the commission also recommended the profound suffering and risk to health caused by loss of livelihoods should be minimised by making provisions for cash transfers by the state to workers in India’s vast informal economy who have lost their jobs and requiring businesses not to lay-off their workers.
The humanitarian crisis the resurgence has precipitated requires all persons in central and state governments to set aside their political differences and work in solidarity with each other, and with civil society, to implement the eight clearly articulated recommendations in our article.Vikram Patel, Study Author and Professor of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
These recommendations reflect the collective wisdom of 21 experts from India across academia, civil society, and the private sector, including many who have played leadership roles in India’s health system, the commission said.
“COVID-19 is the most serious crisis independent India has faced as the virus pushes its way into rural areas where 65% of India lives. We need to enable our country's innate resilience to kick in and hope that these eight steps will go a long way towards providing that support. All of us and our organizations look forward to partnering with the government and enabling our most vulnerable to survive this pandemic. The world is looking to see how India comes out of this crisis", author Poonam Muttreja said.
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