A study on the public health situation during the COVID-19 pandemic here has recommended urgent action for reducing health inequities to face the challenges posed by the spread of the infectious disease that has led to the loss of livelihood and productivity, increase in poverty and decline in nutrition levels.
Jaipur-based Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) has identified some primary aspects of inequities, while underlining the need to integrate and address various determinants at the individual, community and the health system levels. Its study found that 40% of the health outcomes could be measured through social determinants.
IIHMR chairperson S.D. Gupta said here on Saturday that lack of accessibility and affordability, poverty, lack of education, inequitable distribution of income and lack of proper nutrition were the gaps which had caused major concerns in the health sector during the pandemic. The transformation of public health could only be achieved through equity, he said.
The study affirmed that the global health leadership should work together, improve data collection, identify and tackle the root cause of inequities and act beyond borders by sharing resources such as testing kits, treatment drugs and vaccinations with the low-income countries. Dr. Gupta said these critical actions would be useful for a State like Rajasthan, which had a difficult geography.
“We have been able to fill the gaps for maternal mortality and child mortality, but nutrition has been a challenge. This is primarily because of the factors of deprivation playing a huge role,” Dr. Gupta said. Along with the bridging of gaps caused by inequities, a larger picture of health should be highlighted through Sustainable Development Goals with the focus on universal health coverage.
The study called for action on “emergency use authorisation” as a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies. Empowered logistics and supply chain management could help deal with the pandemic, it said.
The IIHMR has recently established a School of Public Health (SPH) here to make policy intervention for building public health capacity and skills in Rajasthan. The SPH is expected to play an important role in healthcare management in the post-COVID-19 scenario by extending support to the State government in harnessing new technologies.