Friday, April 23, 2021

Studying India's Covid-19 Pandemic Response : Part 1

India has emerged as the global epicenter of the covid-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy : Independent

Like hundreds of helpless expats, I sit in the middle east taking stock of the seriousness of the pandemic situation in India. For the last 2 days, the number of daily cases have topped 300,000. Hospitals overflowing, health services unable to cope, oxygen supply crunched, crematoriums exhuming bodies in car parks. The positivity rate is an all-time high of 30%. Vaccinations need to be at 10 million a day but moving at a snail's pace of 3 million a day. 

Unfortunately, one is faced with having to wade through 24/7 live ticker news and myriad of opinions and commentary on the situation in real-time. Often, you come across phrases and terms used to address the government's actions, such as "mismanagement", "complacency", "refusal to acknowledge shortcomings", "creaky system" or "rickety healthcare" and so on. 

What is going on?

Management and systems engineering are topics that frankly interest me. Taking a step back and looking at this hot mess from a 10,000ft view, how can an average citizen understand the pandemic response policy, decision aid system and management strategy enacted by the current Modi administration specifically for this pandemic? 

Is it possible there is a resource somewhere that rewinds the tape back to day one and runs through all the actions of the government ? Is there a non-partisan book(s) or website anyone know of? India being home to a great business community and management intuitions, I'm concerned why more people are not looking at this crisis from a high level systems point of view.

Of course, these might be concerns even you have. So worry not. Let's try to pick through this disaster piece by piece and unravel the mess playing out before us. I would first like to share a few resources that act as "primers" for reading (I've also included an interview).

Primer :

1. What is the nature of the public health system currently established in India? This handy website explores the current health systems in place in several countries. What I like about it is how it goes in-depth into the organizational structures of each nation's health system. Not highly detailed, but just enough. One can look up India and do the necessary reading.

2. "Combating the COVID-19 pandemic in a resource-constrained setting: insights from initial response in India" This is a neat analysis of all actions pursued by the Indian government in the first 4 months of the first wave of the pandemic in India. A SWOT analysis of those actions are also contained in the paper. I thought it was very systematically researched.

3. "A critique of the Indian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic". Self explanatory. An Indian economist exposes where the pandemic response has fallen short. Lots of points to take stock of. One needs to face these questions head-on.

4. "Modi Leadership Style Main Reason for India's Covid Mishandling" An interview with Indian economist and historian Ramachandra Guha suggests the principal blame and responsibility rests squarely on the Prime Minister’s shoulders. The analysis is on the leadership flaws in the highest man in power and the "yes men" built around him.

5. The EPC mess-up with the medical oxygen I leave two articles and the original bid that was floated here : a)  and b) . The Request for Bid from the Government :

6. "Ten scientific reasons in support of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2"

7. "Biological Risks in India: Perspectives and Analysis" This is a recent and noteworthy treatment of biological risks in India and stresses why India needs a firm 24/7 bio-disasters policy and purpose built institutions in place.

Once we are done sifting through these articles and getting a handle of the problem, we can address sub-topics. That will be the subject of the next series of posts, which I hopefully will do soon. Thanks.

*  *  *

No comments: