A country like India badly needs an integrated medicine infrastructure to help fix it healthcare. For example, there is just one doctor for every 1,457 people based on the most updated population figure of 1.35 billion people, and obviously this ratio is much lower than WHO’s acceptable norm of 1:1000. And according to ministry of health less than one million doctors are probably available in India for active duty. In short, India is a net exporter of healthcare professionals to the world.
Now to get some perspective on how badly stretched the Indian healthcare infrastructure has been for many years, let’s look at the general health of the Indian population. So based on best estimates, there are over 77+ million diabetic patients in India. And the Indian heart association is projecting that by the year 2035, the country will have over 109 million diabetic patients. On top of this, according to WHO report, 1 in 15 Indian dies of cancer every year. This situation is projected to get worst over the years. And then the cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is now the leading cause of mortality in India. In fact, a quarter of all mortality is attributable to CVD. The list obviously goes on.
Looking at these number, it wont be a far fetched conclusion for someone to assume that the Indian society is in fact sick, and there aren’t enough doctors or ICU beds in a population of 1.3 + billion people to meet the rising demand. Just look at the data, so the best estimates puts the number of available ICU beds in the country at 95,000. So the question then is, how will the healthcare infrastructure of the country cope if people don’t take charge of how they live ? But this difficult especially if you are poor, don’t forget around 68% of Indian live on less than US 2 dollar a day. So there is a serious issue as poverty has an impact on health.
Having said all that, it will be hard for any country to create more capacity in the healthcare infrastructure to meet a sudden surge in demand especially if the population is over 1.3 + billion people. It is simply not realistic. Yes! You can prepare for a bad crisis, but you will most likely fail without the society taking charge of their own well-being. The task is huge, and made even more complex because of the population as well as the underlying health issue within the Indian society.
So therefore, I was expecting COVID to run riot in India, and I am afraid, it is now. While debate the shortage of resources etc and how best to allocate them. I believe, a strong message on safety has to be pushed through to the society at large asap to start a fight back. People will need to come together, and fight a good fight against the VIRUS. They will have to learn to quickly adapt. Vaccinating over 1.3+ billion is a herculean task, so while science is coming to the rescue, people will have to exercise caution for a while especially in a country like India.
Even in developed and advanced country like the UK for example, the fight against the VIRUS was dependent on the society coming together. Without people following COVID safety rules, vaccination alone will not win the battle. People will have to learn to live with the virus by adapting and making changes.
You can’t expect to not get washed away by a raging tsunami if you didn’t get out of the way. In crisis situation especially in a pandemic, what individuals do, does matter significantly. Each individual can make a difference, and every individual has a role to play in India’s fight against COVID.
People will have to apply common sense. And not just outsource their own safety decisions to Gods or the Government. Simply put, your life has to be your own responsibility. And you have to learn to take that responsibility extremely seriously. If people learn to break the chain by getting out the way of the raging COVID wave then, within a matter of couple of months, the fight will turnaround in advantage of the society. So people will have to come together and take charge. I have faith that people will come through. And my heart goes out to everyone who is in this fight, and also those we have lost. It is important that we win this fight, and we will.
And hopefully, in the immediate aftermath, the ongoing COVID crisis in India will be recorded as the transformational moment in history for the Indian society and the world at large.
Going forward, as I see it integrated medicine is the way forward especially in a country like India. Combining modern medicine with Ayurvedic and other ancient healing system is the only way forward. Also, a whole-of-the-govt approach towards the general health of the society has to become a matter of urgency.