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Prime Minister Modi rewrites India’s priorities to put health care first




When the pandemic hit in 2020, all countries, big and emerging, struggled to strike the right balance between protecting the lives of their citizens and protecting their livelihoods. Many took the approach of keeping businesses open: however, they had to enter unplanned closures when the Covid-19 workload became too overwhelming for governments to handle. This has led to ad hoc announcements of financial aid programs and irresponsible giveaways to stimulate demand to keep economies afloat. We are now witnessing the consequences of impending economic recessions in these countries.

India, on the other hand, as evidenced by Prime Minister Modi’s first clarion call from jaan hai toh jahaan hai, has chosen to protect lives over livelihoods first by imposing a strict lockdown until we have improved our healthcare infrastructure enough to cope with large surges in infections. Once confident, the prime minister once again announced on national television his plan to slowly open up the economy, sounding a new clarion call for jaan bhi aur jahaan bhi. More than two years later, the relevance of his words is becoming evident in the high-level political decisions taken by his government.

An important lesson the world learned very quickly from Covid-19 is that the pandemic ceased to be just a health issue after the first few months of its onset. It was more of an economic and security issue, with the power to cripple some of the strongest economies in the world. In this increasingly globalized world, disruptions to supply chains for even some of the most essential commodities have rendered people powerless in times of crisis.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi foresaw the supply chain problem early on when he announced his government’s intention to boost Indian manufacturing across all sectors in order to become aatmanirbhar (self-sufficient). At the same time, he also pointed out that although we are making serious efforts to become self-sufficient, it is essential to modernize our health infrastructure so that we do not have to depend on our basic needs in the future. This commitment shows that Indian governments have increased the health budget in addition to their tireless efforts to modernize our primary health care clinics, improve secondary and tertiary hospitals, medical teaching institutions, invest in diagnostic facilities and R&D and embrace technology to reach the last mile.

Ignored for decades, India’s health infrastructure has been compromised and has remained rather weak. Congress, which has been in power for much of the past seven decades since independence, has mismanaged the country’s finances so badly that come election time it would still be about providing roti, kapdaa, makaan and sadak, because they would not have achieved the same objectives promised during the previous electoral cycle.

Fast forward to today, Narendra Modis India has proven itself as a country that has managed to save more lives than most countries in the world through the Covid-19 pandemic through careful decision making and decisive action. Not only did we manufacture our own vaccines in sufficient quantities for our large population, but we also managed to administer over 200 million doses of vaccine to our people. By providing an effective elixir like our Indian-made vaccines against Covid-19, the Indian government has demonstrated its commitment to investing in healthcare. The effectiveness of our vaccines compared to others used around the world is significantly superior due to the scientific rigor adopted by our best scientists during the vaccine approval process.

The fact that India has carried out the largest and perhaps the fastest vaccination campaign on the backbone of a technology platform like COWIN has caught the attention of the world. Once mocked for our backwardness, not too long ago the tables have turned and we are now leading the way to best integrate technology and modern tools for the penetration of social protection measures. Even though the world is only beginning to take notice of our technological prowess and acceptability, the Prime Minister has been quietly working to integrate it into the lives of all Indians since taking office in 2014 through the UPI interface, Jan Dhan Bank Accounts . , Aarogya Setu, COWIN. Now that the people of the country have fully embraced it, as evidenced by the increase in the number of UPI transactions and vaccination appointments using COWIN, many of them have the potential to be reused for dissemination in larger health care plans.

To reiterate his government’s emphasis on good health, the Prime Minister announced that free precautionary doses would be provided to everyone eligible to take the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccination for 75 days in the run-up to Independence Day on August 15. With these developments, it may not be ambitious to expect many more upgrades to India’s healthcare infrastructure in the coming days. Health is a key index of human development, but only now, 75 years after independence, do we have a leader who wants to make health one of his main focus areas.

Priyam Gandhi-Mody is an author and political communications strategist. A Nation to Protect: Leading India through the COVID Crisis is his third and most recent book. The opinions expressed are personal.

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