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Lessons From Covid-19: How India Can Ramp Up Its Healthcare Sector

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India has highlighted the need to spruce up our public
health sector. To debate on actionable ideas to improve our healthcare, Apeejay School of
Management(ASM) recently organised an online symposium on ‘Public Health System in India’.



Dr. Shweta Jha

Students from Kalindi College, Delhi University were invited as panelist comprising Ms. Purvi Gupta Ms. Hina Chahar and Ms. Tannu Kumari. The discussion was jointly moderated by Dr. Shweta Jha, Apeejay School of Management and Dr. Monika Kulshreshtha, Associate Professor, IINTM.

Opening the discussion, Dr. Shweta Jha, said, “We all know that India’s healthcare system has cracked under the weight of Covid-19. Current Indian healthcare system has proven its inability to provide the golden trinity of accessibility, affordability and quality healthcare to all its citizens. A large chunk of healthcare expenditure by Indians is paid out of pockets and paying for healthcare is one of the leading reasons that pushes people below the poverty line.”

Monika Kulshreshtha, Associate Professor, IINTM said India needs to invest a lot more on public health.  “India spends just 1.26% of GDP on public healthcare while the United States spends over 16% of their GDP on public healthcare. 66 percent of Indians go to private hospitals because of the poor quality and long waiting time in government run hospitals.”

Mr. O.P Khanduja

Ms. Purvi Gupta said India must focus as much on public health as it does on defence. The aim of fully equipped armed forces and fully equipped healthcare sector is same. Both are there to save the lives of people. We have started to talk about health care now when the pandemic is not discriminating between rich and poor. However, India is also home to a lot of Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These NTDs hit the poor most and they don’t require top-notch hospitals or expensive medicines. When we as a country are failing to eradicate these diseases which do not need mass vaccination drives how can we keep our hopes high for good days?”

“Disease such elephantiasis kills thousands very year. Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), who manage health at grassroots level are underpaid. Their meagre salaries are delayed and sometimes they are not given PPE kits to take care of themselves”

We have a good healthcare system, we have some of the finest doctors in the world and a rich history of Ayurveda, but ask yourself: Do we see it working? Does it benefit rich and poor alike? The problem in healthcare can be fixed with right human approach without any thrust of power.”

Ms. Hina Chahar through her poem, ‘A ray of Hope’, talked about finding hope in the face of a pandemic. While, Ms. Tannu Kumari said “There are a lot of loopholes in the system that needs fixing and we need to manage our resources judiciously so that they reach those who are in need. This pandemic has also taught us the importance of good health.”

In his closing remarks, Mr. OP Khanduja, Executive Director, ASM said healthcare is the responsibility of both state and citizens.

We need to gear up ourselves and be caring for each other. Initially, people were not
serious about Corona. Even youngsters were not bothered with social distancing or mask protocols. Now, we need to be more careful.

-Mr. OP Khanduja,Executive Director, ASM

Indian healthcare system has three layers – rural, suburban and urban. The reason we were able to eradicate polio and other diseases is because we were able to target them at all three levels. Corona took us by surprise because of its magnitude. We were thrown in uncharted waters. We have a robust health system all we require is proper management and people becoming more human.  

Dr. Shweta Jha, Apeejay school of management

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

Poetic गुफ्तगू – With हुमेरा खान @poetsofDelhi