World Health Day Amidst Covid19 Crisis

Chandigarh/ Punjab/ Sangrur/ Dr. Amandeep Aggarwal/ April 07: While world is confronting global health crisis of Covid19, April 7 is the day that we celebrate as world health day. The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization, as well as other related organizations. In 1948, the WHO hold the First World Health Assembly. While apex health organization World Health Organization WHO is rightly being accused of wearing a Chinese goggles and delaying the declaration of epidemic threat, one after the other shortcomings in the health infrastructure of various countries have been exposed. Let’s take stock of this situation and try to understand what have we achieved thus far by celebrating world health day year after year and what should be its relevance in today’s perspective.

World has fallen short on all these counts, the failure has allowed Covid- 19 to spread like wildfire across hundreds of countries, affecting lakhs & killing thousands.

WHO gives a novel theme year after year, all countries give pledged to adhere to it. *Ground reality in India 73 years post independence is that what to talk of adequate public health facilities, ICU beds, ventilators we are not even able to provide personal protection equipment to doctors in the frontline of war against Covid19*. Doctors in India demand for personal protection equipment as they are on the frontline in containing the deadly COVID-19.

India has taken war-like measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it is important to understand the risk that we face if no mitigating measures are taken to deal with an unprecedented health crisis. If Covid-19 cases keep multiplying at the current rate, and do so for a sustained period, India’s hospitals may be overwhelmed by the end of May, or even sooner in an extreme scenario. Further, some states will reach a point where they will not have enough hospital beds to treat critical Covid-19 patients much sooner than others, notably Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab.

Successive governments in last 73 years have been ignoring public health due to a deficiency of doctors in government hospitals. Instead of improving the public health sector, the governments have been trying to put the responsibility of public health on shoulders of private doctors.

*In 1987 as a student of MBBS I was taught about the Indian commitment to WHO – Health for all by 2000 AD*. Health for all” implies the removal of the obstacles to health—that is to say, the elimination of malnutrition, ignorance, contaminated drinking-water, and unhygienic housing—quite as much as it does the solution of purely medical problems such as a lack of doctors, hospital beds, drugs and vaccines. *Even 20 years post year 2000 we are way behind achieving 1 qualified doctor for 5000 people*.

The plight of individual doctors in India though is not hidden from anybody. While the government has not been able to improve its public sector hospitals, it is trying to pin all responsibilities on doctors. For these reasons, an exodus of doctors to other countries is taking place, which is further deepening the crisis. Illegal capitation fees in private medical colleges, a health services inequality between urban and rural India and a disconnect between the public health and medical education systems were among the issues a parliamentary committee investigated in 2016, while probing the Medical Council of India (MCI), the 85-year-old organisation responsible for medical-education standards.

*Celebrate World health day or not, celebrate doctors day or not, give lip sympathy to doctors or not, India and its successive governments have to know that making statues, worship places of different religions, giving politically aimed freebies won’t help our country and countrymen. Nation needs to immediately strengthen public health care. We need to build new hospitals, invest in health infrastructure. I wish we as a nation learn lesson from shortcomings exposed by Covid19 threat*.