About the speaker: Dr. Sonali is a public health specialist. She is Founder and Director at Incluve Labs.
The discussion was organized on the occasion of World Health Day and the theme for this year was “Our Planet, Our Health”. The discussion was moderated by Rishabh Shrivastava who gave a brief outline of the theme and explained why it is important to look at climate change as a threat to public health. For the discussion to begin, Rishabh set a brief background by talking about the key events from the last two years of the pandemic like reporting of the first case in India, imposition of lockdown, issuance of guidelines, vaccination campaign and other landmark events.
The discussion was then taken forward by Dr. Sonali. She talked in detail about how the state responded to the pandemic. According to her, the centralization of decision-making during the pandemic made it difficult for the authorities to tackle the crisis in an efficient manner. Dr. Sonali also explained the need for public sector provisioning of healthcare and discouraging privatization. We discussed the need for universal healthcare coverage and how the principle of equity is missing in the Indian healthcare system. Further, Dr. Sonali shared her views on urban healthcare, the patients’ rights charter by NHRC and the need to build a robust public health cadre in India.
Dr. Sonali briefly touched on the issue of the right to privacy vis-a-vis healthcare in the country. The discussion was finally concluded with a quick recap of key learnings that the Indian healthcare system should learn from the pandemic and the need to stay alert but not panic (on revised COVID-19 masking and social distancing protocols issued in some cities).
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