India becoming the pharmacy of the world is one of its biggest achievements in the past 75 years, underlined World World Health Organization (WHO)’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan while listing out the country’s achievements in healthcare.
Dr Swaminathan, who was speaking at NDTV’s Swasth Bharat, Sampann Bharat Telethon, listed out four big achievements of the country – from the elimination of polio and a few other vaccine-preventable diseases to reducing maternal and child mortality to universal health coverage to India becoming the pharmacy of the world.
The top scientist, however, spotlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the delivery of essential health services in almost every country, including India.
There has been a setback in tuberculosis treatment, non-communicable diseases, in delivery of ante-natal and child health services in India, she noted.
“There needs to be a good stock take of where exactly more attention will need to be paid in the coming months, and not only to catch up, but also ensure that we create resilience within the system to ensure, that if there are future health shocks, and there are bound to be health shocks in the future, that we can deal with those without having to compromise on other essential health services,” said Dr Swaminathan.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), malnutrition is a major contributor to disease burden in India and a predominant risk factor for death among children younger than 5 years of age. The Covid pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Dr Swaminathan has cautioned experts to look at the data carefully as the virus has upended families and pushed people into poverty.
“The Covid pandemic has also increased the rates of poverty and is likely to increase undernutrition in the community. So we need to really look at the data carefully increasing rates of poverty and under nutrition could drive up the incidence of diseases like tuberculosis, but also other diseases that are related to poverty. So this is something that we will need to watch closely and take preemptive action on,” she added.
Covid infections in India have been decreasing and have stayed below 30,000 daily in the past week.