Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said India is ready to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pointing that India has turned this COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to ramp up its healthcare infrastructure, Choubey said: “India is ready to handle the highly-infectious disease ravaging the world.”
Speaking at the inaugural of ‘Gratitude Week – A Tribute to Health Guardians’ a first-of-its-kind live web show by Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, Choubey said he will consider IHW Council’s demand of a memorial for healthcare workers who are fighting the battle from the front. Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) endorsed the idea at the event.
The 60-hour-long virtual marathon will also initiate the process of crowd sourcing tributes for all healthcare workers and information about all doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who have fallen to COVID-19 to create a memorial that will provide people an opportunity to share information, discuss and remember the work and sacrifice of these heroes.
Speaking at the event, while emphasising the preparedness of the Government, Choubey said: “We have used this pandemic into an opportunity to strengthen our healthcare infrastructure and we have been able to control it to a great extent. From one laboratory in Pune, we have 1,056 labs now and have completed 90 lakh tests so far and producing 3 lakh PPE kits every day. We have 2,562 dedicated COVID centres, 60 lakh COVID beds and 4 lakh additional beds in railway coaches, ICUs and 60,000 ventilators. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has allotted Rs 2,000 crore from the PM CARES fund for purchasing 50,000 ventilators. We have managed the disease better – India’s recovery rate is more than 60% compared to 4-5% in other countries. We are thankful to doctors and the entire medical community for their contribution in fighting this battle – they have not given up despite being infected and losing their colleagues to COVID-19. I thank IHW Council for proposing a memorial for the healthcare workers who laid down their lives while serving us – we will consider it.”
Touching upon the importance of preparedness to fight the pandemic, Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi pointed out: “This is once in a generation experience and at a time when we were more focussed on non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases have come back with a bang – it reminds how important preparedness is. Doctors are coming out of their retirement to serve people despite knowing the risks and they accept the risks as a part of their duty, but at the same time want people to hear their concerns, protect, prepare, support and care for them. Hence, I endorse the idea of a memorial for healthcare workers who are toiling in such conditions. We need to remember no man is an island – in population-based interventions, such as social distancing, cough etiquette, masks and isolation will be important until there is a medicine or a vaccine but we can witness more outbreaks and we need to have a long-term plan to prepare for them.”
Increased Public Spending
Highlighting that the virus has infected even young doctors and increasing public spending in healthcare can help, Prof. K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) said: “Doctors are in a profession that is a service and not a business but they are stigmatised and being held accountable for system failures – we need to dismantle false hierarchies in the medical profession as we move from a paternalistic model to partnership model. Doctors need to be readied with care, concern, compassion, courtesy, and communication – communication is important to build trust. We also need universal health coverage and increased public spending in healthcare to improve primary care. We need to become advocates for system change better healthcare and I would request finance commission to look into increase spending for better coverage.”
Among those joining the thanksgiving programme till July 7, 2020 will also include patients, corona survivors, leading names from the business community, social influencers, celebrities, performers, and school children, and will draw doctors, nurses, top leadership of pharmaceutical, medical devices and diagnostic industries as well as researchers and scientists. IHW Council, a premier think tank that advocates for a healthy world through multilateral stakeholder engagement, has been at the forefront of advocating health for all.
Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Council said: “This event is the beginning a momentous initiative to show our collective appreciation and support for the health workers who often remain unsung heroes of our health eco-system despite being relentlessly working to reduce human sufferings and save millions of lives every year. We express our gratitude to all those healthcare workers who are risking their lives to provide care and cure for us during this pandemic. This is the tribute for all our doctors and nurses, and other healthcare workers who have become the only resort to our species battling one of most fearsome pandemics of all time in form of COVID19. This is also in acknowledging those who are spending sleepless nights or working hard at labs and plants to produce medicines that can cure or guard us against this disease brutally raging across the globe as well as in memorial to all those health workers who lost their lives while serving humanity with an unflinching dedication to the Hippocratic oath.”
Other dignitaries on the inaugural day consisted of Prof. Sarman Singh, Director and CEO, AIIMS Bhopal; Dr. Harsh Mahajan, Founder and Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging; Dr Sanjiv Kumar, Chair, Indian Academy of Public Health; Rohit Poddar, Managing Director, Poddar Housing and Development; Dr Hema Divakar, Founder and Medical Director, Divakar’s Specialty Hospital, Bengaluru, Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation, Prof. Debashish Danda, Founder, Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology, CMC Vellore & President-Elect, Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology; Dr. Bhawna Sirohi, Director – Medical Oncology, Max Cancer Institute; Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder and Director, Ujala Cygnus Hospital, and Dr. H S Chhabra, Medical Director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre. The concluding session yesterday saw school children Yohan Mervin, George Robin, Utkarsh Shukla from St. Columba’s School, New Delhi, expressing their feelings for doctors and a performance by Anant band/school-band.
The event will have a series of interactions with draw 100+ speakers witness including top representatives from the government institutions, corporate organisations, social impact foundations, healthcare and educational institutions, as well as environmentalists, conservationists, musicians and artists expressing their gratitude through good wishes and kind words or performing live concert. What is more, the web event will draw some of the most renowned doctors of India, including Dr. Sanjay K. Agarwal, Professor and Head, Department of Nephrology, AIIMS, New Delhi; Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar, Professor and Head Department of Onco-Anaesthesia, Pain and Palliative care, AIIMS, New Delhi; Dr Sumit Mrig, Principal Consultant and Head ENT, Max Super Speciality Hospital; Dr Jeyaraj Durai Pandian, Principal and Professor of Neurology, CMC Ludhiana and Vice President, World Stroke Organization; Prof. Debashish Danda, Founder of Clinical Immunology, CMC Vellore and President-Elect, Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology; Dr. P.P. Mohanan, President-Elect, Cardiological Society of India; Prof. OP Kharbanda, Dr. C G Pandit National Chair of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); Prof. Sudhir Kumar Rawal, Medical Director & Chief of Genito Uro-Oncology Services, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute; and Dr HS Chabbra, Chief Spine Services & Medical Director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre for panel discussions and share their behind-the-scenes experiences with more than 10,000 people on all seven days from 10.00 AM to 6.00 PM.
The gratitude partners for the include the prestigious Poddar Foundation, 91.1 Radio City, Paras Healthcare, Ujala Cygnus, IIHMR University, and Poddar Housing. The event will conclude on July 7, 2020.