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India covid-19

Chaos in India as ‘World’s Largest Public Healthcare Program’ Collapses

Specialists qualify the situation as a “health catastrophe” as patients are dying in hospitals due to the fact that the facilities have run out of oxygen

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The coronavirus pandemic has generated a health catastrophe in India to the point where the figures are devastating: 243 cases of COVID-19 are reported every minute, while the streets become common cemeteries.

The images are heartbreaking, the most populated country in the world reported in the last three days more than one million new cases, and last week alone there was a cumulative increase of 89 % of deaths due to the disease.

Specialists qualify the situation as a “health catastrophe” as patients are dying in hospitals due to the fact that the facilities have run out of oxygen. According to reports, there are cities where corpses are already piling up outside the morgues and mass cremations are taking place in parts of New Delhi.

The failure of “Modicare” unleashed a health catastrophe in India

Experts assure that the figures are much higher and that the consequences of the second wave reach the dimensions of a tsunami that devastated the country’s resources.

In 2018, India gave the green light to what it called “the world’s largest public health program” with the intention of providing coverage to 500 million poor people; a system that collapsed with the pandemic.

While India is a vaccine manufacturer, production has drawbacks in terms of importing inputs; and yet in a fit of generosity and “vaccine diplomacy,” India exported tens of millions of AstraZeneca doses manufactured on its soil.

Instead of encouraging private investment in the health sector for years in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government of India now decided to take over the operations of private hospitals to address the crisis, after Modicare, the world’s largest public health system, was shown to have failed.

“Regional governments have had to take over private hospitals in the states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, which shows the failure of the government’s policies,” Dr. Amar Jesani, one of the founders of the Forum for the Society for Ethical Medicine, said to El País.

A false “normality” sank India

In March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the world’s largest lockdown: “People will be totally banned from leaving their homes,” Modi said in a televised speech. “All states, all districts, all villages will be under confinement.”

The measure paralyzed the country for two months and although it somewhat paused contagions, it caused a strong blow to the economy in a nation where a good part of the population is submerged in poverty.

The government, which promised “the largest public health program in the world”, failed to improve the system and, without having vaccinated a large part of its population, believed in February 2021 that it had overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

The country, with a precarious healthcare system reopened cinemas, allowed political rallies and gave the green light to religious ceremonies while slowing down the promising mass vaccination campaign.

“India let its guard down. Large religious gatherings, the reopening of most public places and packed election rallies are to blame for the upturn. A false sense of normalcy took hold and we did not take steps to stop the second wave that is sweeping in like a tsunami,” Dr. A Fathahudeen, a pulmonologist working on pandemic control in the state of Kerala, told El Mundo.

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