Things India needs to do to negate the possible effects of COVID-19 Third wave

India has recorded 26 million Covid-19 cases  which is second only to the US. The second wave of COVID-19  has overwhelmed the healthcare system with hospitals struggling to bear the pressure of oxygen shortage and treatment drugs. Experts believe the wave is getting diminished at the national level. However, people are more awry this time for a potential third wave of COVID-19 virus.

The most important factor that will play the role whether or not India is getting hit by a third wave, is the rate of vaccination. Apart from this, let us look at other factors which can be instrumental to curb the effects of a third wave.

1. Expansion of testing facilities

Timely testing and isolation of COVID-19 patients is the key. Now-a-days, people who are feeling symptomatic to COVID-19 are not testing themselves due to the distance of testing facilities. Free testing for COVID-19( especially for the poor) can be beneficial as well.

2.  Poor needs to be encouraged to seek medical advice

It is a tendency which has been observed that seeking medical advice from doctors is proportional to the economic background of the people. Most of the patients won’t go and seek any medical advice from doctors or pharmacists thinking that would incur charges as well. Lack of health facilities in proximity and affordability are much bigger reasons for not seeking medical advice among the poor than the rich.  The fact that COVID-19 starts with a common symptoms of fever, cough and cold they think it can be managed well by self-medication rather than visiting a doctor after travelling a lot.

3. Financial burden on the patients and their family

There are many patients whose families are unable to pay the debt or the fees of the hospital with regard to the bed, facilities and treatment. According to the survey done by NSO it is estimated that 81% of hospitalization cases (excluding childbirth cases), the expenditure was met by family income or savings. 11% of such cases were financed with borrowing, 3.5% of these were met with contributions from friends and relatives and 0.4% required sale of physical assets.

4. Cover of  Health Insurance

According to the survey conducted by NSO, it is estimated that over three-fourth of hospitalization cases in India involved individuals who were not covered by a health expenditure insurance or scheme . Access to health insurance is correlated to incomes, and the share of hospitalization cases not covered by any kind of insurance increases from 68% among the richest 20% to 85.5% among the poorest 20%. Even in cases where health insurance existed, it did not cover the cost of the entire treatment. NSO survey shows that on an average, health insurance paid for only 10.2% of the medical expenditure and 9.1% of total expenditure (which includes cost of transporting patient as well as the cost of food, lodging, transport, etc.for the household) in cases which required hospitalization.

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