Giving Compass' Take:

• Shamik Trehan argues that now is the time for strengthening public healthcare in India, both to address the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and prepare for future health crises.

• What are we learning about our preparedness for public health crises? Why is strengthening public healthcare increasingly essential in an effort to curb the effects of coronavirus? Are you prepared to be a proponent in the fight for healthcare reform?

• For more information on how to get involved in funding the coronavirus response effort, click here.

Communities and authorities across the world are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being called the world’s most challenging crisis since World War II.

If we are to respond to it effectively, we need a coherent healthcare strategy. We are going to have to live with the choices that we make now, at least until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed. Therefore, we need to prepare ourselves to respond not just in the next 15, 30, or 45 days, but until such time as a vaccine becomes available.

Given the urgency and the rapidly evolving scenario, we need to first and foremost ensure that a steady supply of essential inputs is available beyond metros and Tier-I cities. This includes testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), drugs, and adequate health infrastructure, such as hospitals, with necessary treatment facilities and quarantine facilities. We need to do much more testing, better contact tracing, and ensure quarantine measures are followed, especially in hotspots and high-risk clusters.

The second level of our response must entail identifying and acting on the measures necessary until and after the lockdown ends—which is most likely to occur in a phased manner—so that we are better prepared to respond to the crisis as it unfolds. The good news is that we can leverage a lot of what we already know or accelerate long-pending plans, to equip ourselves for the coming months. We do not necessarily need novel solutions to deal with the novel coronavirus.

If we reform our public health system now, it creates an opportunity for ripple effects in other areas too: for instance, nutrition and water and sanitation. We have spoken about a multi-dimensional approach to public health for long, and we finally have a catalyst that is pushing us towards this approach.

Read the full article about strengthening public health care and coronavirus spreads by Shamik Trehan at India Development Review.