This is my write up in ET Prime on the challenge faced by India in handling the crisis. The key takeaway has been highlighted below but we are staring into an abyss as far as the pandemic is concerned.
The state governments have historically demonstrated little incentives to contribute towards improving their “health-index” ranking. So far, as the experience goes, some of them have even utilised the central infusion funds for disbursing the salaries instead of using them for the intended beneficiaries. The real costs of healthcare have never been passed on to the populace availing of the services.Epidemics expose our underpinnings and hence should be utilised as an opportunity for a systemic overhaul.
Domain experts are ruled over by whimsical political appointees that make it extremely inflexible adjudge the demands of modern healthcare. A continuum of healthcare policies from the Centre to the state would be possible only if the system is geared to respond efficiently without being a sum of many moving (and underperforming) parts.
The system doesn’t have adequate domain experts and none of our state health ministers are doctors or has adequate bandwidth of grasp over the situation. As such, it is left to their whims and imagination on passing orders or “following” federal directions as they grapple with the economic fallouts. I hope it would be a mechanism for change.