India remains ill-placed to tackle the spread of COVID: Fitch Solutions

Despite several healthcare reforms, India remains ill-placed to tackle the third wave of COVID-19 infections sweeping the country, Fitch Solutions said on Friday, adding that the unprecedented crisis had highlighted the need. to increase investments in the health sector.

After some success in the fight against the virus, the Indian economy had returned to normal operation in the second half of 2020.

“However, over the past few weeks the virus has started to spread rapidly, in part due to complacency over social distancing measures and mask-wearing policies,” Fitch Solutions said in a note.

With daily cases of COVID-19 crossing the grim 2 lakh milestone, several hospitals across the country are beyond their capabilities to handle the growing burden of the highly infectious disease.

States like Maharashtra, Delhi, Chennai, Punjab and Karnataka, which bear the maximum burden of the pandemic, are already falling short of health infrastructure and equipment, ranging from oxygen to ventilators, he said. .

“Despite several health reforms, India remains ill-placed to tackle the rapid spread of the coronavirus,” he said, adding that the epidemic could be worse in India if not contained in a way. adequate.

With 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants and 8.0 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, the country’s health sector is not equipped for such a crisis.

“In addition, the significant inefficiency, dysfunction and acute scarcity of health care delivery systems in the public sector do not match the growing needs of the population,” he noted.

In addition, over 80% of the population still lacks meaningful health insurance coverage and around 68% of the Indian population has limited or no access to essential medicines.

“The low level of public expenditure on health is both a cause and an aggravating factor explaining the poor quality, limited scope and insufficient public provision of health care.

“Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of the public sector in the provision of health care,” the agency said.

The unprecedented crisis, he said, highlighted the need to increase investments in the health sector.

Fitch Solutions said the vaccine rollout in India has been slow.

The 135-crore country administered 8.09 crore in vaccine doses through April 2021, the most after the United States and China, but it lags far behind in per capita vaccinations.

India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has expanded its immunization program to include all people over 45. But so far, she has only vaccinated about one in 25 people, compared to nearly one in two in Britain and one in three in the United States. States.

“The surge in virus cases in India is jeopardizing its position as a global supplier – the country has had to curb vaccine exports in order to maintain domestic supply,” he said. “India’s supply problems will significantly affect emerging Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that fall under the COVAX plan.” Among Indian cities, Mumbai remains one of the worst victims of COVID-19.

The Brihanmumbai City Company decided to release asymptomatic patients as soon as possible to release beds for patients with more severe symptoms.

The Mumbai civic body also said it will place the order to procure injections of remdesivir, an antiviral drug and other medical equipment, to avoid any potential drug shortages in the city’s hospitals.

During a review meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said mortality should be avoided under all circumstances by strengthening health care infrastructure, the availability of oxygen, ventilators in addition to the necessary logistics and ensuring that clinical management protocols are followed in all hospitals as well as for home care.

“Concerned about the growing burden of the pandemic, states are reorganizing their health infrastructure to cope with the growing number of patients,” added Fitch Solutions.