[Editorial Analysis] The facilitator

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Oxford- AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Mains level: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Context:

• On Sunday, India overtook Brazil as the country with the second-largest number of COVID-19 cases.

• For six weeks now, the country has been reporting a record number of cases almost every day.

• Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh account for more than 45 per cent of this caseload.

• At a meeting, last week, the country’s worst-affected hotspots — the Centre was alerted to some of the reasons for the failure to check the pandemic.

Perplexed:

• The meeting revealed that a large number of grass root health workers — ASHA activists and volunteers — do not know what they are expected to do in containment zones.

• District medical officers reportedly evinced very little knowledge of the special measures required to shield and treat vulnerable groups — the elderly and those with comorbidities.

• The Centre has now prepared two manuals — one for surveillance workers on the ground, and the other for supervisors monitoring the teams.

• The spread of the pandemic has made such meetings — and handholding — imperative.

• However, in reaching out to district authorities, the Centre must not do anything that comes in the way of states’ framing local-level strategies to curb the pandemic.

To be facilitator:

• This is not the first time that the Centre has lent its weight to state-level efforts against the pandemic.

• In June, its intervention helped the Delhi government to step up the fight against the virus at a time when the pathogen was surging alarmingly in the capital.

• The Centre had played the role of a facilitator then, helping the Delhi government to bolster its medical facilities, arranging testing equipment and providing expert guidance in redrawing containment zones.

• Medical authorities in the worst-affected districts could similarly benefit from the help that the Centre can provide because of the financial resources and medical expertise at its disposal.

• Pune, which has overtaken Delhi as the worst affected Indian city, for instance, has struggled to monitor its containment zones.

• The two “jumbo” COVID-treatment facilities in the city have reportedly been embroiled in controversy with patients complaining of improper treatment.

Unpredictability:

• Last week, the Centre also held a meeting with officials from Delhi, which has been reporting an uptick in cases since the last week of August — the city registered its highest spike in 76 days on Tuesday.

• The Delhi government maintains that the recent wave is different from the surge in late May-early June — testing has been scaled up nearly four times, the city’s case fatality ratio is on the wane and it has sufficient medical reserves to deal with an emergency.

• But the ways of the virus are unpredictable. Emergencies could require concerted ground-level action involving the Centre, state and local or district authorities.

• That might test the delicate balance between them.

• In walking this tight-rope, the Centre should play the role of an enabler — in the 17-worst-affected districts, and elsewhere.

Conclusion:

• Pandemic spread necessitates hand-holding by Centre in some districts. But it must tread carefully, respect state concerns.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), consider the following statements:

1. Providing Unorganised sector Pension schemes through the Business Correspondents is one of the components of PMJDY.

2. It provides an overdraft facility upto Rs.5000/- after satisfactory operation in the account for 6 months.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Why Oxford- AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trials have been halted? What are the major implications of it?

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