As a sequel to the article published earlier, I wanted to delve deeper into this event viral pandemic exposure which is unravelling in front of us.
Going back as far as the early 1990s we must remember the event called globalisation, it is important because even the health care sector was largely influenced by that decision, as a part of the conditions for private global capital to be invested in health care sector, the government had to recede.
By late 2000s the successive governments had promptly shut down or stopped funding or cut down the funds to various government vaccine producing centers, for example the Pasteur institute India Coonor, central research institute Kasauli and BCG vaccine lab Guindy, substantially reducing the ongoing capacities to produce vaccines for the national immunization programme. One would as a logical extension of this effect presume that even new vaccine development would be a remote possibility in case of urgent need.
Succeeding on the same lines (globalization) private investment in health increased substantially but government expenditure has not, remaining dismal compared to the other countries in terms of percentage of GDP.
The result was the rapid growth of the corporate health sectors who also concentrated themselves to the urban centers (remaining irrelevant to public health) and started spending on luxuries like advertising, marketing and floor managing the health care of its elite clientele (not patients) in a well networked kickbacks driven market it made for itself.
Corporate health establishments had become so irrelevant to public health that even the contractual labour and daily wage workers working for a hospital cannot afford OPD services in the same hospital which they work for, forgetting about the other costly services like surgeries, the tragedy doesn’t end here, when the government decided to tax the higher end luxury ward services, the corporate Health brand owners actively opposed it, when the government tried to bring in cap on service charges, whatsapp campaigns fiercely opposed the same from the private health sector owners.
As if the tragedy must never end the new dispensation at the centre changed the guidelines and tried to pass laws in some of the health care areas like the assisted reproductive technology (IVF / test tube baby ) to exclude some people like the LGBT, single people and divorced, essentially not allowing them to access some of the treatments, so again even if a LGBT or single people were already employed in such a clinic and would be a person desirous of such treatment then he/ she wouldn’t be eligible for the same even if affordable by the person, notwithstanding millions of others for whom the same service is not available in the public sector either.
One might ask “what is the relation between increasing cost and exclusivity of private health care promoted by laws by the government and that of an epidemic”? Well the answer is when government was actively receding from the health care sector for the sake of private to jump in why was the forethought lacking that during epidemics (which might spread due to the same globalizing effects), “for profit private investment” will not work because only long term profit will attract investment, not a short term requirement during an epidemic.
This I think has translated now into this dire situation wherein on one side the common ignorant whatsapp fake propaganda addicted commoner of this country is clueless about what’s happening and other hand the rich-segment serving corporate health establishments went scot free without their irrelevance being exposed.
The virus globalised itself like international capital flowing from one country to another, for which there was no vaccine nor treatment( just like the capital flowing in or out excessively didn’t have any solution) and the only way out was a clampdown and isolate the whole country and also its individual people with a modest aim of flattening the curve of spread, eventually making its success uncertain due to limited testing capabilities and over and above allowing media driven frenzy making it a stigma to have the disease.
What we still not realizing is, it’s not a profit motive which will save lives, it’s the capacity to publicly fund basic science education and research, public health care and health research, which will save us in such situation. This has unfortunately been reduced in capacity systematically since decades. Medical colleges produce a lot of trash in the name of thesis and especially the crucial basic ones relevant to our country like the preventive medicine.
Our premier research institute in medicine ICMR has been reduced to a procurer of defective testing kits from neighbours. It’s journal called the Indian Journal of Medical Research has a publication online dated February, 2020 which compares various commercial kits for diagnosis of dengue virus infection which is also an RNA virus like the Covid 19. It concludes that RDTs (Rapid diagnostic tests including the one manufactured by a company called J Mitra (JM RDT) lack sensitivity. Whereas when you check the website of the J Mitra and co, one finds that it is market leader number one for Dengue day 1 RDT!
Welcome to the epidemically unscientific times.