Covid-19 and India
India is on the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic battleground. As a country with a population in excess of 1.3 billion individuals as well as a relatively high population density, we are very vulnerable to the effects of this fast spreading virus. Considering that the US currently is leading the world in the number of infected as well as deaths due to complication because of the virus, it is unsettling to acknowledge that it could easily have been India with the most cases and deaths.
But that is where we have shocked the world. Understanding that our healthcare sector was nowhere near ready to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, India instituted one of the world’s strictest lockdowns while utilising the extra time it earned by preparing its healthcare services to deal with the virus. It is a remarkable testament to the abilities of the government and the people of India who understood the urgency of the situation and worked as one, forgetting religion, cast and political alignment, to ensure that we find our victory within this global tragedy.
The lockdown, contrary to popular belief, is not instituted to combat Covid-19; instead its primary purpose is to reduce the rate of infection to give our ponderous healthcare machinery the time it requires to be able to deal with all cases at a given time. Experts have predicted that there will be global spikes in Covid19 infections in July-August and again in the spring of 2021. Before that India must retrofit its healthcare department to be able to deal with the increase in cases. The problem usually boils down to a lack of rooms in the ICU’s as well as a dearth of ventilators; both critical factors in reducing the mortality of this virus.
India has spent the time under the lockdown very assiduously, and has converted multiple government and religious structures into makeshift quarantine hospitals. Moreover, the continuous stream of information about the virus, its symptoms and its treatment processes have enabled the majority of the public to understand what we are all dealing with and has effectively mentally prepared us for what is to come.
The days ahead are much stormier than the days that have past. Some predictions are estimating the number of Indians who will be infected to be around 35 million with a harrowing death count in excess of a million. Though these figures may seem inflated, the real figures will nonetheless be enormous enough to leave a lasting impression on our society and economy. But, unlike the rest of the world, we will be better prepared for it. And we will fight and triumph over this calamity together, as one India.
MIT-WPU has long recognised the fragile, yet essential bond between humans and their environment and is one of the first universities to offer courses in sustainability studies. MIT-WPU offers a Masters in Public Health which deals precisely with enabling the students, including non-medical students, to become experts in addressing a range of determinants of health. The MSc (Compassion, Peace, Humanitarian action and Disaster Risk Management) course is one which directly pertains to the global pandemic we are in the grips of by teaching humanitarian action as well as disaster risk management to the students. Given the rapid pace of globalization as well as the advances we are making in science, it is important to understand that this is not the only pandemic that we will be facing. We must be prepared to combat future pandemics while taking the necessary steps to ensure the reduction of such global calamities. The Faculty of Sustainable studies at MIT-WPU aim to do precisely that.