|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 6 | Page : 585
It is time to invest in health security
Sunil Kumar Raina
Department of Community Medicine, Dr. RP Government Medical College, Tanda, Uttar Pradesh, India
|Date of Submission||20-Sep-2020|
|Date of Decision||27-Sep-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||27-Sep-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||6-Nov-2020|
Sunil Kumar Raina
Department of Community Medicine, Dr. RP Government Medical College, Tanda, Uttar Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Raina SK. It is time to invest in health security. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2020;13:585
Lockdowns, zoning, and containment, words with which public health has largely stood dissociated with from for almost last 100 years or so, have come to be identified as part of public health strategy to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do these measures really fall in the larger domain of public health or are these a part of largely administrative response to the COVID-19 pandemic? The verdict on this is debatable, notwithstanding the fact that governments across the world cannot be blamed as what we are dealing with is a health crisis of an unprecedented magnitude.
Most nations responded on the basis of knowledge acquired during the pandemic itself and in the absence of a concrete history of the disease, relied on evidence that was far from top notch. Science sacrificed itself on the altar of speed, and research on COVID-19 exceeded everything else published in the public domain. Not that intentions were wrong, but science subservient to external dynamics does more harm than good. This time, science was subservient to time.
But as is true of all difficult times, COVID-19 has also been a great teacher so far. A masterclass that taught us that to be able to mitigate its impact, we need to be prepared. Among others, it also exposed, a lack of a firm policy on epidemics across the globe. India despite having mounted a strong response and demonstrated a firm national commitment, missed valuable scientific inputs on ways to deal with this crisis, largely because health security has never been a forte with our country's public health policy or academics. What probably will be needed as a long-term strategy to deal with not just COVID-19-like pandemics but also a growing burden of noncommunicable disease is a policy focusing on India's health security (IHS), more or less like our policy on internal or external security. The IHS needs to (i) identify gaps in our preparedness; (ii) conduct long-term risk assessments; (iii) plan, prepare, and predict response and control actions and their impact; (iv) build, strengthen, and sustain institutional capacities; and (v) strengthen public health infrastructure with local impact. Our own health security agenda should be defined with activities (both proactive and reactive), with the aim to minimize the danger and impact of the acute public health events that endanger people's health across our geographical regions. Diseases, like COVID-19, will continue to disrupt people's health and cause social and economic impacts. With international travel converting the entire world into a global village, opportunities for the rapid international spread of infectious agents and their vectors will continue to be on the rise.
With the increase in the awareness of the potential hazards of chemicals and biological agents for health and the environment, the threats are immense. The globalization of food industry increases the risk of tainted ingredients and thereby potential diseases. The World Health Organization on whose advice the world depended a lot before this pandemic points out “As the world's population becomes more mobile and increases its economic interdependence, these global health threat increase and traditional defences at national borders cannot protect against the invasion of a disease or vector.”
Therefore, probably, it is about time to start investing in our health security and learn our own lessons.
| References|| |
Raina SK, Kumar R, Galwankar S, Garg S, Bhatt R, Dhariwal AC, et al
. Are we prepared? Lessons from COVID-19 and OMAG position paper on epidemic preparedness. J Family Med Prim Care 2020;9:2161-6. [Full text]