The Hindu Newspaper Analysis – 18 February 2021

Road Safety

  • The editorial points out the situation of the roads and the scenario of road safety in the country. It mentions how while India celebrated the Road Safety month, a horrible road accident was witnessed in Madhya Pradesh where 51 people travelling in a bus lost their lives and that’s how bad the road safety record of India is today.
  • It mentions a World bank report called as Traffic crash injuries and disabilities report which mentions that India has 1% of world’s vehicles but is home 11% of the road accidents of the world.
  • Ministry of transport has provided that in 2019 India saw 151113 deaths due to road accidents and 451361 injuries.
  • The scenario is really bad today, as the worst affected in this regard are the low- and middle-income households especially from those in rural areas and women who face both financial and psychological impact.
  • The lack of proper steps is one of the reasons but we can note that central Govt has been taking many steps like amendment of the motor vehicles act but there is lack of cooperation from the states.
  • We need to note about the highways where 61% deaths take place and 5% of these are due to the road accidents.
  • The rules and regulations have to be shaped well, policy guidelines need to be shaped, road safety boards have to be established. The cooperation of the states is also needed in this regard so that we can achieve sustainable development goal.

Healthcare in Budget

  • The COVID 19 pandemic worsened the scenario in the country and exposed the loopholes in the healthcare system of the country hence, the Govt took several steps to fix the issues with the help of the budget and even before that.
  • The measures taken are as follows:
    • The product linked incentive scheme provided a push to domestic manufacturing of pharmaceuticals as well as medical devices.
    • Mission COVID suraksha scheme provided a boost to the vaccine production and we are one of the largest producers of vaccines in the world and several nations are dependent on us for the same.
    • The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package came as boon for providing free ration to households and saw 800 million beneficiaries getting free food.
    • We also saw one nation one ration card scheme and allocation was also seen in the budget we saw emphasis on it.
    • We saw good allocations to aspects like drinking water, sanitation, nutrition and so on; as a part of this we saw that Jal Jeevan Mission aimed to supply quality drinking water to the people as this is the need of the hour to save lives and eradicate diseases like Polio, Measles and so on.
    • We saw emphasis on the Pneumococcal vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia as this is a major disease and a killer of several children. With the help of this we can save 50000 lives as pneumonia kills several children even before they reach their 5th birthday.
    • We saw the Pradhan Mantri Atma Nirbhar Swasta Bharat Yojana which saw a push towards the capital expenditure for the healthcare sector in terms of disease surveillance, diagnostic capabilities, health and wellness centers, primary healthcare centers and so on.
    •  Though there was less allocation to the PMJAY scheme we saw that those states that adopted it saw 20% decline in Infant mortality rate.
    • We have also seen increased allocation 40% allocation to the alternative medicine systems or AYUSH.
  • The way forward here is that the allocation should go on increasing and must not be stagnant, more funds are needed for related sectors like drinking water, sanitation and others. The states should also cooperate and increased their expenditure to healthcare by 8% as it has also been provided in the 15th finance commission and National health policy. This will also help us reach the SDG of universal health coverage.

Exit plan from COVID 19

  • As we have all been affected due to the pandemic, the most important question on our minds is when is the pandemic ending or will it end or no. We also need to take into account the damages that the pandemic has caused us and the changes or mutations is undertaking.
  • The author mentions a report by Lancet that provides for an elimination strategy for COVID 19 or zero COVID strategy. This strategy has three elements:
    • Rapid reduction in the no. of cases
    • Create virus-free zones
    • Proper management of the newly reported cases
  • This strategy is not feasible by all nations as it has some problems that we need to understand
    • Some nations like India cannot follow it and geographically isolated nations like New Zealand can undertake the same as there can an outbreak in other nations which can affect the cases at home
    • It is difficult to keep up the pace with the spread of the virus with the vaccination drive and to match up with the mutations of the virus
    •  Rich countries might afford the above, the poor countries cannot
  • We need to note how we are able to tackle other diseases like Tetanus, Polio, or Measles; we have not been able to eradicate it completely but we are able to control through proper vaccination.
  • Likewise, we cannot eradicate COVID 19 completely but we can definitely reduce or control it and due to this it can become endemic, meaning limited to one region and not a pandemic.
  • Pragmatic measures are needed here and we need extensive vaccine coverage and mapping the cases in the right way.
  • We have also seen the ill effects of the pandemic as it has reversed the progress done in terms of other disease like polio, TB, cancer, and others hence we need to note that trying to end the pandemic shouldn’t be at the cost of the universal health coverage that we are trying to achieve.
  • It is a tricky goal to end the pandemic and is not very feasible and affordable for all what we can do here is adopt the motto of reduce, reduce, reduce then it will be helpful for us. We mustn’t move away from the ideal of universal health coverage.
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