As of 19 May 2021, 276,110 new positive COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in India, in a 24-hour period. What is occurring right now, in the world’s second-most populous nation, is a shocking interplay between an under-resourced healthcare system, poverty and a lack of coordination from the Government.
Whilst poverty is on the decline in India, 86 million people live in extreme poverty. This makes up 6% of the total population. 230 million Indians fell into poverty due to the pandemic over the last year.
India’s fragile healthcare system is part of the reason why the pandemic has reached such devastating heights. Lack of medical funding and healthcare infrastructure are partly the cause, as well as a vast, growing population needing medical care.
Currently there are 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 population, and 8 physicians per 10,000. Additionally, more than 80% of the population still does not have significant health insurance coverage and 68% of the Indian population has limited access to essential medicines.
The vaccination rate has also been placed under stress. Whilst India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker, the country has only vaccinated 1 in 25 people. This places additional pressure on the vaccine global supply chain, with India holding back vaccine export to maintain domestic supply.
This resulting supply issues will significantly affect emerging Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh within the COVAX plan.
The #EndCOVIDForAll campaign supported by Results is encouraging the Australian Government to stand in solidarity with India through the provision of vital medical supplies.
The #ECFA campaign has had an impact, with the Australian Government announcing a package of support, including the deployment of 500 non-invasive ventilators, with a capacity to deploy up to a total of 3,000 ventilators.
This also includes 1 million surgical masks, 50,000 P2/n95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields. As well as 100 oxygen concentrators with tanks and consumables.
Whilst its great to see the Australian government providing interim support to India through the provision of important medical supplies, the needs of the Indian people still outweigh what’s on offer.
With cases starting to rise in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the current situation exposes the inadequacy of global vaccine supply chains, and the inequity of health care between developed and developing nations.
The current production and delivery of vaccines is distributed unevenly, with only 0.2% of the 700m vaccines distributed so far going to low-income countries.
This is against the backdrop of Western nations and the European Union making deals to obtain vaccine doses in the magnitude of a billion doses.
This only reinforces the need for support from Western nations like Australia to support developing nations during the pandemic, to finally #endcovidforall.
Results advocate, Joe Wilson, is a legal eagle from Perth, Western Australia. He enjoys coffee, yoga, surfing, pad Thai and writing.