From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Role of the States in health crisis
The States are better equipped to deal with the health emergencies and the Centre needs to augment them in their efforts. The article deals with this issue.
Role of the States in health crisis
- Covid-19 pandemic is a national crisis calling for concerted efforts by both, the Government of India (GoI) and state governments.
- Health is a state subject, and the states have been pioneering many health programmes on their own, some with support and funding from the GoI, for a very long time.
- The number of employees in the health wing of the GoI is negligible as compared to that in any state government.
- The GoI must help them, motivate them to do better and assist them in their task.
- Also, the GoI must and can play a major role is in vaccination.
Role of the Central government
- It must try to augment supplies by encouraging companies to produce more and through imports/gifts.
- However, whatever it procures must be allotted to states in proportion to their eligible population.
- State governments must be involved in this policy.
- The vaccination policy may be left to the state governments based on the allocation.
- The GoI must also augment supplies of critical medical goods through imports and donations from friendly nations in view of their acute shortage.
- It must distribute them to the needy states transparently and equitably.
Steps that need to be taken
- Lockdowns need to be lifted in a calibrated manner depending on local conditions.
- Lockdowns are not the solution, they just buy breathing time which can be used by governments to ramp up capacity.
- State governments must set up efficient and well-functioning control rooms and telemedicine centres to guide people on home treatment and timely admission to hospitals.
- The private sector can also be fully involved in these efforts.
- Bed capacity must be increased in both private and public sectors, with all necessary requirements such as oxygen, medicines, and health workers.
- It is also important to put in place a standard guidance protocol for health workers and control rooms to guide patients through the disease.
- Enforcement of masks and distancing in public places must go on till the country is fully vaccinated.
- The measures suggested above require hard work and efficient management by state governments, by a team of reputed professionals and civil servants.
- Daily briefing by a professional, not a politician, is the need of the hour at both the Centre and state level, giving some confidence and assurance to the public.
Consider the question “In dealing with the health crisis the Union Government and the State governments are better placed for certain roles. In light of this, examine the important role of the States in dealing with the Covid pandemic and how the Union government can complement it.”
The central government must realise that states are on the forefront in this war, and therefore, play a supporting and proactive role. It has only a minor, behind-the-scenes role in the health sector.