ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Underestimation of the COVID-19 Burden

The number infected with SARS-CoV-2 in early May in India is estimated by a method utilising the unequivocal number available, namely deaths due to COVID-19. The estimated numbers are far in excess of reported numbers and indicate the systemic flaws in reporting deaths in India, augmenting the extent of underestimation. Additionally, there is the overestimation of the doubling time of infection. A realistic picture of the epidemic at the community level is presented, which informs us about the level of preparedness required to deal effectively with the epidemic.

How Prepared Is India to Control the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19, has reached many places in India, from Kerala to Kashmir. With local spread occurring from infection seeded by importations, a nationwide epidemic of unprecedented seriousness is imminent. The Prime Minister should assume leadership immediately and a full-time war-room, run by a task force with the best national experts, must be set up, and immediate, medium- and long-term strategies designed and implemented. We have lost one month already.

Swine Flu Surprises

The government has not taken the outbreak of influenza virus seriously enough. While it had managed to curtail the spread of the H1N1 virus in 2010, it has not put in place the public health measures which would collect data and allow for policies which will protect the most vulnerable populations. An explanation of the dangers of influenza and what can be done to address these.

Ebola and India

While the chances of the Ebola virus entering India are low, Ebola and pandemic flu teach us to expect the unexpected and be prepared. New diseases are appearing in the world again and again. We live today in a "global village". Ebola-infected bats are probably present in Asia. Nipah virus-infected bats are widely prevalent in east Asia; there is no guarantee their territorial flight paths will not extend to peninsular India. Is India prepared? Who exactly is in charge?

India Needs a National Policy to Control Tuberculosis

There is no policy in India for tuberculosis control and the centrally-run Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme has neither mandate nor agenda for TB control. There are short, medium and long term remedies for the maladies of the revised programme which are detailed in this article. TB is both a biomedical and a social, cultural and economic problem. Citizens must demand a national policy for TB control.

Polio Elimination: A Response

In Manoj Grover’s letter “Polio Elimination” (EPW, 17 May 2014) on two points in my article “Can the Polio Elimination Success Story Breed More Successes in India?” (EPW, 5 April 2014), the writer seems to answer the question in the negative, saying: “I cannot imagine any internal [read Indian]...

Can the Polio Elimination Success Story Breed More Successes in India?

Overcoming formidable biological and sociocultural barriers, India eliminated wild polioviruses from its territory in January 2011. Looking back, it is obvious that the best policy would have been to introduce the inactivated poliovirus vaccine to prevent polio in every vaccinated child, and to use oral poliovirus vaccine by pulse campaigns to eliminate WPVs rapidly. This would have eliminated polio decades ago. Now that WPVs have been eliminated, IPV must be introduced as a prelude to withdrawing OPV. The road ahead is bumpy, but with the important lessons learnt so far, India can no longer pretend that it is too difficult to design a permanent public health infrastructure to control other communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Is India Ready for an Overhaul in Healthcare?

How can healthcare be made equitably accessible to every individual, no matter the circumstances of geography, employment, income, wealth, age, gender, occupation and the ability to exercise autonomous choices? An outline of the steps that must be taken to move towards healthcare for all.

Putting Disease-Prevention before Health Insurance

Sapna Desai’s commentary “Keeping the ‘Health’ in Health Insurance” (epw, 19 September 2009) is insightful and timely. It focuses on public health, the missing element in India’s health system. Modern medicine advanced on two fronts, public health and healthcare. Both use tools of science and...

Polio Eradication: A National Commission Required

The 2006 polio outbreak in India occurred despite a decade-long Herculean effort to eradicate the disease. Oral polio vaccination by repeated campaigns seems powerless against the wild poliovirus. To improve operational, economic and technical inputs, particularly regarding the need for injectable polio vaccine, a national commission on polio eradication is a necessity.

Bird Flu: Public Health Implications for India

The H5N1 virus, commonly referred to as bird flu, must be viewed as a serious threat to India and all possible precautions must be taken to guard against disaster. Countries with robust public health systems are gearing up to face a H5N1 global pandemic. India's weakness in public health is, however, a cause for worry. Our defences could easily be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the pande

AIDS Control and Retroviral Drug

By distributing anti-retroviral drugs free of charge Brazil has succeeded in sharply bringing down the death rate due to AIDS. Why should not India, by evolving policies to determine who should get free treatment, from both medical and economic viewpoints, embark on such a programme?
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