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

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Looking beyond Numbers in Public Health


Acomprehensive approach to public health and the pandemic is extremely important in the present context. The tension between quantitative and qualitative analysis in public health is a perennial issue and has been pointed out earlier by quantitatively oriented scholars like Lindsay McLaren. This especially becomes prominent when such “number representations” become inadequate for public health while “exploring new ways in handling problems,” although there are possibilities of critical thinking even with a quantitative approach. A cursory observation of the current scenario in public health in India finds this to be a rare occurrence.

The reason for prompting this response is because of the current obsession with numbers and that too as a mechanical, cursory and routine lip service without even assessing or understanding the multidimensionality of the health system. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially led to this number business as new terms and quantitative descriptions have become popular largely because of media reports, and one finds even politicians using these terms with ease.

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