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India needs robust point of care interventions for tackling future infectious diseases: FICCI-ELSEVIER whitepaper

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Highlighting the impact of pandemic, the paper states that, in India, an estimated 20–22 lakh infants are targeted for vaccination in national programmes every month (which translates into approximately 260 lakh children per year) who were not vaccinated due to suspended vaccination sessions

FICCI-Elsevier whitepaper on ‘Infectious Diseases beyond COVID-19’, states that the COVID pandemic has created unprecedented stress on healthcare infrastructure, leaving other infectious diseases largely unattended. The delay in detection, diagnosis and treatment may lead to nearly 20 per cent more deaths in adults due to TB during COVID. The pandemic reversed the achievements which were gained in past years in terms of the decrease in the number of cases of HIV and the decrease in children and adolescents who will access treatment. Models project 10 per cent more deaths due to HIV over the next five years.

The whitepaper, developed under the guidance of Dr Suneela Garg, Lead- FICCI Working Group on Infectious Diseases (under FICCI Swasth Bharat Task Force), Professor of Excellence & National President IAPSM & OMAG; and authored by a team of experts from AIIMS Jodhpur, highlights the need for a robust point of care interventions in the form of localized evidence-based solutions to empower HCWs in improving health indicators.

Highlighting the impact of pandemic, the paper states that, in India, an estimated 20–22 lakh infants are targeted for vaccination in national programmes every month (which translates into approximately 260 lakh children per year) who were not vaccinated due to suspended vaccination sessions. There is a threat of an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease, which will have a devastating impact on child mortality and morbidity; and may further lead to outbreaks even in susceptible adult populations. Health status of the elderly is a serious cause of concern, especially given the psychosocial impact during the pandemic.

The paper was released yesterday during a webinar where a distinguished group of panelists chaired by (Hony) Brig Dr Arvind Lal, Chair, FICCI Swasth Bharat Task Force; Executive Chairman, Dr Lal PathLabs and Managing Trustee, ALVL Foundation, deliberated on the challenges in healthcare utilization and the need for point-of-care solutions in the post-COVID world.

Dr Lal shared, “New, existing, and re-emerging infectious diseases are estimated to be the cause of one-fourth of all deaths across the globe. The exponential rise in COVID cases during the pandemic shifted the health system’s priority to treating affected patients, severely impacting the care for patients with non–COVID diseases. Disruptions in screening, case identification, rehabilitation, and referral systems have further resulted in a substantial decrease in the diagnosis of other infectious diseases as well as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).”

He also highlighted that, “India has a high burden of infectious diseases other than COVID. The age-old Tuberculosis still kills nearly 1 person in India every minute. Therefore, it is imperative that we develop a concrete strategy to deal with other infections and their aftermath”.

Dr Garg elaborated the impact on health services and national health programs due to the disarray of health services. She also shared her vision for the future, how prepared our system is now compared to previous COVID waves and how a one World One Health can be achieved.

Prof Pankaja Raghav, Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine, AIIMS Jodhpur and the key author of the paper, gave her insights into the impact of COVID on vulnerable groups and the Pandemic fatigue being observed in people across the spectrum.

Dr Sanjeev Singh, Medical Director & CMS, Amrita Institute of Medical Science & Research Centre gave his thoughts on the rationalization of resources considering the pandemic including publication ethics and evidence-based indication for policy matters especially treatment modalities and hospitalizations.

Dr Dilip Mathai, Dean, AIMSR spoke on his experience with online education and the need for Clinical information to be more agile and point of care. He said that we must decide on opening educational institutional sooner and later.

The experts concluded the session with the recommendation that there is a dire need for the Indian healthcare eco-system to focus on point-of-care solutions. This will bridge the gaps and strengthen healthcare professionals to tackle such epidemics and pandemics in the future.

While FICCI has been actively engaged with the government and industry for strategic collaborations for tackling the pandemic, ELSEVIER have been working towards making a post-pandemic resilient health information ecosystem where our frontline professionals are equipped with verified knowledge and content to deal with uncertainties at the point of care.

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