MOVING TOWARDS SELF-RELIANCE IN HEALTH SECTOR


Ram Prasad Tripathy

With the oath of PM Shri Narendra Modi and his ministry on 30 May, 2019 a golden chapter began in the history of Indian democracy. After decades the electorate voted back a full term government to power consecutively for the second time with an overwhelming majority. Following the historic performance of Modi government for last five years from 2014-2019 the country once again voted PM Modi undeniably with some more aspirations and desires. Their desire is further development of the country, a secure future and a respectful place to India in the comity of nations, with keeping the socio-cultural fabric and ethos of the nation intact. Undoubtedly, the people have unfathomable trust on PM Modi and everybody is hopeful that only PM Modi can bring this country to the new growth trajectory with his pioneering thoughts and visions.

Without disappointing, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has once again shown a new vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ to the country. Now it is evident that Modi government has been working with a much bigger goal to create a Self-Reliant India. The recently announced Rs 20 lakh crore package is certainly a major step in this direction. ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is a great and groundbreaking initiative which will usher in a new era of opportunities for every Indian, be it our farmers, workers, small entrepreneurs, industrialists or youth.

PM Modi has given the idea of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ amidst India’s fight against Covid-19 pandemic. When the fight against the pandemic began, the country lacked minimum facilities to counter it. Thus it is obvious, many raised questions that can India be Self-Reliant in health sector.

Three months ago there was only one Covid-19 Testing Center in the country. The production of essentials like PPE, N-95 mask was negligible and India had to import these essentials from abroad. In view of all these circumstances, the international media also raised questions on India’s capability and how India will fight against the Corona pandemic. They feared that India would fail badly on the Covid front. However, the concerted efforts made by the government from the beginning in terms of preparedness and measures against the Covid-19 pandemic are commendable. Entrepreneurs and innovators from every sector of India have also responded to the challenge posed by the Covid-19 crisis very quickly. Whether it is Indian institutions and companies making a significant contribution to the global development of vaccines/drugs against Corona or making hydroxychloroquine drugs available to more than 120 countries, India has raised its flag on every front. In these three months, significantly we have increased the production of PPE kits, N-95 masks from the insignificant quantity of production to more than 3 lakhs per day and now India has become the second largest producer in the world.

Even scientific agencies, researchers, private and public research laboratories, start-ups, incubators, and entrepreneurs have done this miracle by PM’s encouragement and their self-motivation to win the fight against Corona.

According to expectations, big research institutes of the country like IITs did commendable work no doubt, but smaller institutions, for example Odisha-based Berhampur ITI, which has no direct relation with Corona research is producing low-cost Aerosol Boxes, Face Shields, Sanitizers, Masks, Sanitizer tunnels, converting discarded microwave ovens into UV sanitizer chambers to disinfect mobiles, pens, laptops and other items for the frontline medical staff and use of common public beyond this pandemic is also equally admirable.

New Innovations

To win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic, India was the first to launch ‘Arogya-Setu’ app which helped against the Covid-19 detection. Pune’s National Institute of Virology has successfully developed India’s first indigenous antibody test kit “ELISA”. A low cost Covid-19 test kit has been developed by IIT-Delhi scientists. A startup of IIT-Bombay has developed a digital stethoscope that can listen and record heartbeats from a distance. It reduces the risk of frontline medical staff who are fighting against this epidemic. Microwave Sterilizer “ATULYA”, an electrostatic disinfection machine, Rapid Diagnostic Kit, Affordable Ventilator – Developed by NOCCA Robotics of IIT Kanpur has received public accolades. Large scale manufacturing of affordable ventilators by Aerospace Research centre, Bangalore and involvement of 6 Indian companies under the guidance of ICMR in R&D of new Vaccines for Covid-19 has also received appreciations.

The Indian Army and DRDO developed “COVSACK” kiosks, an ultraviolet light-based sanitation boxe. The Laser Science and Technology Center (LASTEC), the prestigious laboratory of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) developed an ultra violet disinfection tower. Contactless sanitizers, remote controlled trolleys and special type PPE kits have been developed by the Indian Navy. Many Start-ups have also contributed to the fight against Corona by developing fever detection systems and portable ventilators etc.

The financial assistance package announced by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for research and development in health sector and to counter Covid-19 will also go a long way in maintaining and enhancing the innovative research mindset of our scientific community. Simply we can say that all the innovations India has made so far during this pandemic has definitely made us self-reliant and persents the future path towards complete self-reliance in health sector. Whenever there has been a crisis in India, we stood with our head high. At present India is facing another crisis and we will surely succeed in achieving our goal.

(The writer is Associate Editor, Kamal Sandesh)