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What I learnt from the COVID-19 Crisis

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
July 25, 2020 11:47 IST
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'We are a country of amazing ability and the way we have responded to the pandemic is evidence.'

Healthcare workers wait to collect blood samples from people who have recovered from the coronavirus disease at a plasma donation camp inside a classroom at a slum in Mumbai, July 24, 2020.  Photograph: Hemanshi Kamani/Reuters

IMAGE: Healthcare workers wait to collect blood samples from people who have recovered from the coronavirus disease at a plasma donation camp inside a classroom at a slum in Mumbai, July 24, 2020. Photograph: Hemanshi Kamani/Reuters

Doctors and the former Union health secretary share their learnings from the pandemic with Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.

Dr Shahid Jameel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance

  • Science based and data driven policy making is required to control pandemics.
    Therefore, we must have accurate, granular and transparent data.
    Otherwise, we will not make the right decisions -- whether these are forecasting models for cases, hospital beds, ventilators, etc.
  • Just science is not enough to control pandemics.
    Trust and compliance are necessary.
    Therefore, the social and human dimensions are also important, and must be part of any strategy.
  • We are a country of amazing ability and the way we have responded to the pandemic is evidence.
    But we must prepare to build knowledge, capacity and systems in advance.
    Being in the reactive mode can cost us heavily.
  • Science, technology and research have been the real stars.
    In 6 months we have learned so much about the virus and the disease, developed vaccines and repurposed drugs.
    This cannot be forgotten when it is over.
    Science has the ability to provide answers to our problems, provided we are willing to listen.

Dr Tauseef H Khan
Resident doctor, infectious disease department, King George's Medical University, Lucknow.

Dr Tauseef Khan was infected with COVID-19. He shares his experience on what two things he learnt from his experience.

  • My biggest learning from COVID 19 is that this disease can infect anyone. This is the biggest message that it has given to all human beings. It told us that all human beings are same.
  • It is a great leveller and spares no one that includes legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan or even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
  • It also proved to me that you may be a rich man or a poor man or for that matter a black man or a white man, we all are one and equal.
  • Secondly, I also realised that many people who were uprooted from their families could never come back home as they were searching for livelihood in cities.
  • It also proved that home is home. And no one can replace your loved ones.

K Sujatha Rao
Former Union health secretary

  • Invest much more on public health and primary care. Public health means also high quality laboratories and diagnostics.
  • Where pandemic control strategies have been implemented like Kerala and Later in Dharavi etc results have been excellent. Clearly it's important for the central government as well as state governments to build and develop such public health capacities to cope with pandemics and avoid making costly mistakes.
  • Civil society organisations and community organisations should have been co-opted much more intensively and early on instead of trying to manage a public health issue as a law and order problem.
  • Invest on hospitals and bring them up to acceptable standards.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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