Predicting a possible Covid-19 resurgence in India, Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and senior surgeon Dr Devi Shetty have recommended urgent actions, as per an NDTV report. An eight possible preparatory measures were also proposed in the commentary authored by the duo with 21 others, on the website of the medical journal The Lancet.
The first recommendation was to turn the organisation of essential health services into a decentralised model. Since the emerging cases and heath services differ with districts, a one-size-fits-all or a generalised approach cannot be maintained.
The second one was the need for a transparent pricing policy and reasonable caps on the prices of all essential health services. This includes ambulances, oxygen, essential medicines and hospital care. Existing health insurance schemes should cover hospital care for all people.
Clear and evidence-based information management of the pandemic must be disseminated and implemented, they suggested. This information should include international guidelines for home care, hospital care and treatment. It should be made available in local languages also.
The fourth suggestion was that all the available human resources across all the sectors, including private, of the health system, should be deployed into the pandemic response. With that, they should be provided with sufficient protective equipment, guidance to use clinical interventions, insurance and mental support.
They further suggested that state governments should decide priority groups for vaccination based on evidence to optimise the use of available doses. This would help to increase the vaccine doses incrementally as supplies improve. Also, the vaccine is a public good and should not be put under market mechanisms.
Then, community engagement and public partnership are essential for India's battle against Covid-19. Civil societies had a generous helping hand in fighting the crisis in Mumbai.
There must be transparency in collecting data by the government so that districts will proactively prepare for the likely caseloads in the coming weeks. Data on age and sex-disaggregated Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and mortality rates, community-level coverage of vaccination, community-based tracking of the effectiveness of treatment protocols and long-term outcomes should be provided to the health system.
Finally, provisions for cash transfers by the state to workers who have lost jobs in the country's informal economy reduce their suffering and risk to health caused by loss of livelihood. Formal sector employers should be directed to retain all the workers, irrespective of the status of their contracts, and the government should offer them compensation to be paid when the economy revives.