Representational image of a doctor conducting a Covid-19 test in New Delhi | Photo: ANI
A doctor conducts a Covid-19 test in New Delhi | Representational image | ANI
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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has come under heavy criticism from three major medical professional associations for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, even as the country readies itself for ‘unlock phase 1‘.

A joint statement issued by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, and Indian Association of Epidemiologists on 25 May says that community transmission has already set-in.

“It is unrealistic to expect that Covid-19 pandemic can be eliminated at this stage given that community transmission is already well-established across large sections or sub-populations in the country,” the health experts have said.

This is in stark contrast to the Modi government’s claims that there is no community transmission in the country yet. On Sunday, the total Covid-19 cases in India crossed the 1.83 lakh-mark.

Some of the notable signatories of the statement include Dr Shashi Kant from the Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and Dr D.C.S Reddy, former professor at Banaras Hindu University. While Reddy chairs the Indian Council of Medical Research’s group on epidemiology and surveillance for Covid-19 that was constituted in April, Kant is a member of it.

Calling India’s lockdown “draconian”, the experts have also said that India has been adversely impacted by a “catastrophic double burden”.

“The lockdown cannot be enforced indefinitely as the mortality attributable to the lockdown itself (primarily because of total shutdown of routine health services and livelihood disruption of nearly the entire bottom half of the Indian population) may overtake lives saved due to lockdown mediated slowing of Covid-19 progression,” it adds.


Also read: Delhi violating ICMR, WHO norms by not Covid-testing the dead. But it’s not the only state


‘Reliance on bureaucrats, not epidemiologists’

The health experts have claimed that the government is relying overwhelmingly on “general administrative bureaucrats” and not experts in epidemiology or preventive medicine.

“Had the Government of India consulted epidemiologists who had better grasp of disease transmission dynamics compared to modelers, it would have perhaps been better served,” the statement reads.

It further says: “From the limited information available in the public domain, it seems that the government was primarily advised by clinicians and academic epidemiologists with limited field training and skills.

“Policy makers apparently relied overwhelmingly on general administrative bureaucrats. The engagement with expert technocrats in the areas of epidemiology, public health, preventive medicine and social scientists was limited.”

The experts have also said had the migrant workers been allowed to go home at the beginning of the epidemic, when the disease spread was slow, things would have been different today.

“The incoherent and often rapidly shifting strategies and policies especially at the national level are more a reflection of ‘afterthought’ and ‘catching up’ phenomenon on part of the policy makers rather than a well thought cogent strategy with an epidemiologic basis.”

11-point action plan

The experts have recommended an 11-point action plan to be implemented by the Modi government.

They have said that all Covid-19-related data, including test results, should be made public and accessible by all.

“The opaqueness maintained by the Government of India as well as state governments in the context of data so far has been a serious impediment to independent research and appropriate response to the pandemic,” the statement says.

They have also recommended that the nationwide lockdown must be lifted and instead be replaced with “cluster specified restrictions”.

Other suggestions include resumption of all the routine health services, a marked scaling up of diagnostic facilities, and optimal PPE kit availability for frontline workers.


Also read: How well has Modi govt’s Covid strategy worked? Answer lies in 1 million+ tests done so far


 

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13 Comments Share Your Views

13 COMMENTS

  1. All these worthies have submitted this report on 25 th May.Whether they tried to contact the Govt much earlier and pointed out to them the alleged mistakes in its strategy to control the virus and the Govt did not listen to them.If this is true ,then their criticism is valid.Otherwise,what is the point of submission of the report now when the horse has already bolted from the stable.Anybody can point out mistakes after having the benefit of wisdom of hindsight.Some of their recommendations like cluster specific restrictions ,increasing testing for COVID virus, optimum availability of PPE are already being implemented by the Govt.

  2. Where were these experts in the height of the lockdown?the same social media and mainstream media were available to them to voice concerns and opinions.it is very convenient to criticize with the benefit of hindsight

  3. These esteemed organizations are waking up rather late in the day These same concerns could have been raised in beginning of Locdown2 and knowledge in hindsight is easy

  4. Now these health experts will be branded anti-nationals and either sacked down by Modi bhakts or shot dead in broad daylight.

  5. At last specialists are trying to be heard. I thought system has made them spineless. World over with some notable exceptions, bureaucrats and politicians have taken over pandemic management listening to every Tom dick and harry except public health professionals with disastrous results. In India because of bureaucratic handling, well to do brought the virus and poor had to suffer the consequences.

  6. Sorry,the WHO which has major contributions from The Vaccine Fanatics,who has signed a MoC with the GOI’s Health Department..The WHO also seems a Vaccine Fanatic,as evidenced by its opposition to Hydroxychloroquin and Zinc combo.

  7. The government has become habitual as usual to neglect intelligence, by hook or crook they’re interested in carrying their own agenda forward. That’s why that’s why caught in maze like Abhimanyu of Mahabharata. The only Chanakya & Kotilaya are only two AS & NM . That’s why it is caught in problems as demonetising, Economy package, China support, Namaste Triumph, Markaze Mela in capital so many & so forth

  8. Arré kehna kya chah rahé ho?
    Lockdown karein ya na karein?
    Kaam pe jaayein ya ghar baithhein?
    What is there for an expert to say anything on the matter??

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