Wealth is not always Health | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 29th July 2020

“The number one reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors.” –Napoleon Hill

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT #108 :“Wealth is not always Health | UPSC

Wealth is not always Health | UPSC

Pulapre Balakrishnan

Pulapre Balakrishnan is professor of Ashoka University, Sonipat.

Wealth is not always Health | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Adopting a public systems approach to COVID-19

      CENTRAL THEME:

Right now, India’s public health infrastructure and its responsiveness should be the principal concern of the government

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Health : Primary Health Care Centres

      MAINS QUESTION:

States of India harbouring greater wealth than most have registered a higher mortality rate from COVID-19.Clearly wealth is not always health. Discuss -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Why some rich states are unable to control COVID-19 ?
  • Why Smaller States are doing good . Ex : Goa
  • What approach is needed ? Let us dive in !

      INTRODUCTION: 

The virus is spreading rapidly in southern India including States which received worldwide attention for ‘flattening the curve’.

  • THE SURGE : The progress of COVID-19 in India varies across States.

Kerala has not yet led to an appreciable increase in the mortality rate though.

  • MORTALITY RATES : Maharashtra and Delhi have registered higher mortality rates than most States.
  • HIGHEST MORTALITY : Gujarat is no longer the national epicentre but has registered the highest mortality rate of all.
  • WEALTHY STATES : Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat are among the wealthiest regions of the country.
  • RICHNESS IS NOT HEALTH : It would seem from this that for a society, wealth is not necessarily health.

The gist is , wealth and health are both related to Public Goods.

      BODY: 

CHARACTERISTICS AND PROVISION

  • ACCESSIBILITY : A public good has the characteristic that it is accessible to all.
  • PUBLIC GOOD : Clean and sanitised public spaces made easy deployment of society’s public health infrastructure#public good.

EXAMPLE
The isolation and quarantining of infected persons implemented by a public agency. 

  • SENSE OF SECURITY : Members of a society benefit from the existence of a public good, which secures their health.
  • STATES ON THE MARK : Two States of India with better public health infrastructure have diluted the impact of COVID-19 : Goa and Kerala.

EXAMPLE
Goa has one of the lowest mortality rates outside northeast India.Kerala has recorded a slightly higher death rate despite challenges.

  • SYSTEMATIC APPROACH : The number of cases rose in the State but, as said, the death rate did not rise significantly.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE : Public health infrastructure is to be understood as comprising hospitals and medical personnel.
  • IMPORTANT ROLES : In a crisis, the role of the latter is perhaps more important.
  • INCLUSIONS : The word- ‘personnel’ are more than just doctors.

It includes nurses, health assistants, laboratory technicians and sanitation workers.   

INFRASTRUCTURE AND OUTCOME

  • ESSENTIAL EXPERTISE : Health outcomes are the result of an interaction of level of expertise of health personnel to the civic sense of a population.
  • CENTRALISED SYSTEM : The existence of a well-functioning public health infrastructure is central.

Maharashtra and Gujarat are with mortality rates that are six and eight times that of Kerala’s.

  • BASIC INDICATORS : We can see a relationship between the level of public health infrastructure and mortality in these two sets of States.
  • RESOURCE AVAILABILITY : Take the per person availability of allopathic doctors, hospitals and beds in the public sector.Maharashtra and Gujarat do much worse than Goa and Kerala.
  • RESEARCH NEEDED : Even though much more research is needed to establish the role of the public health infrastructure .
  • SPENDING SHARE : It is just that states chose to devote a far lower share of their national income to public health, despite their higher aggregate and per capita incomes.
  • WEAK PREPARATIONS : Weaker public health infrastructure left them less resilient to the epidemic, resulting in higher mortality.

      IASbhai Windup: 

POOR UTILISATION

  • JUDICIOUS USE : It has long been recognised that ‘how you use it’ may matter more than ‘how much you have’ when it comes to any asset, particularly public capital.

India’s publicly created infrastructure is poorly utilised.
 

  • ELEVENTH-HOUR : We may have only of late started worrying about our public health infrastructure .
  • A BETTER APPROACH : A public systems approach is needed to first understand and then to address situations such the one we are now facing as the epidemic swirls about us.
  • RECONSIDERATIONS : It takes into account both the physical resources available in the public domain and the practices adopted in governing their use.
  • COUNT ON LAPSES : It is also a case of a lack of accountability in the public health sector.

“Death is not the only impact of COVID-19.There is also the distress it unleashes upon the living and the trauma that results from it.”

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL | Wealth is not always Health | UPSC

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