Nagaland: ‘We have inherited a flawed system, needs review’
Kohima, Sep. 4 (EMN): The advisor for New and Renewable Energy, IT&C, Science and Technology, Mmhonlumo Kikon, on Thursday said that policymakers do not take decisions on the basis of public pressure or ‘somebody’s demand.’ It is mostly based on a scientific approach to addressing the issue collectively, especially during the time of pandemic.
Kikon, who is also a member of HPC and spokesperson for Covid-19, government of Nagaland, said that ‘we have inherited a system which has been faulty, which has not really addressed the key issues. We have inherited a system which needs to be critically reviewed’.
The advisor was speaking as guest speaker on a webinar panel discussion on Covid-19 vaccine, treatment, HIV and human rights, organised jointly by the SLCA-Kripa Foundation, Nagaland and Kohima Press Club.
From the experience of the pandemic, he viewed that people need to go back to the ‘grassroots and re-imagine, try to build a system which works for everyone’.
‘Earlier, the budget for health was lesser than other sectors, but today the world is prioritising the health and education sector at the same time. The states were compelled to ramp up the healthcare facilities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a positive step towards how people should be prepared for any eventuality. Even if vaccines come, this should be a key experience for people to emphasise on quality healthcare in the days to come,’ he said.
The advisor pointed out that it is the individual’s duty to take the nation forward depending on ‘how serious we are to consider the amount of data and the amount of knowledge that are available today’. He added that one should be ‘sensitive and responsive to the challenges that we face every day’.
He challenged the youths to take ownership of the issues together. ‘Unless people love the state they live in, they would not want to take ownership of the issues and challenges. As a result, there will be no credible serious redress of the problems that the society has today,’ Kikon said.
Faulty criteria in setting up PHCs
The advisor said that the criteria for setting up of public health centres in Nagaland has been ‘faulty’ in the past because it was not based on population ratio or on the criteria laid down by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
‘Because of political considerations in the past in deciding where PHCs should be set up instead of the ministry’s guideline, it was found that in some blocks, two to three surrounding villages had equivalent PHCs. Whereas, in some areas with a population of 19,000 to 20,000, not even one PHC has been set up,’ he said.
‘While geographical isolation was one of the main criteria for setting up of PHCs, the decision to set up PHCs was not on the basis of the criteria. Therefore, there are many doctors in several places whereas, in some areas, not a single doctor is available. However, this pandemic and the lockdown have been positive for people and areas where PHCs and doctors are required. It has come to the knowledge of the department of Health and Family Welfare that these areas require PHCs and doctors,’ he added.
“Community engagement will come only when we merit the specific criteria laid down, ensuring that PHC is provided, ensuring that doctors ratio is properly assessed when placing PHCs and doctors in those areas,” Kikon said.
Vaccine: priority to frontline workers
‘If vaccine comes, the government of Nagaland is also very serious that its citizens get the vaccines. When vaccines are approved, it will be looking at doses being made available, first to the frontline workers and then to the public,’ he said.
Kikon added the decision was in respect to the national expert group on vaccine administration.
Referring to a communication between ICMR and the state government, he said that vaccines ‘might probably come in the first quarter of 2021’ after completion of the phase-III trials. Till such time, the people have to maintain protocols issued by the ministry.
On the challenges faced by people living with HIV/Aids and drug users in the state, he said that pandemic has not just disrupted the delivery of OST but also impacted the livelihood of most of the drug users in the state and ‘that is something which people have to collectively address’.
‘Challenges faced by them have been less discussed in the past, but now priority should be given,’ he said.
‘The state has had the strictest lockdown in the entire country and that is because of the public perception, and fear that the Covid-19 is an unknown virus. During such time, many of the drug users were not only having withdrawal symptoms because of lack of access to OST, there were people who had difficulty accessing it and for that they had to violate the protocols,’ he said.
He suggested that in the future, a proper data collection be maintained.
‘Develop resilient healthcare system’
Medical epidemiologist and Unaids country director for India, Dr Bilali Camara, stressed on the importance of primary healthcare. About 80% of problems are being consulted through primary healthcare, he said, and called for ways to build community health infrastructures.
“We have to develop resilient health systems which can really help us as much as possible to face any kind of new pandemic,” Camara said.
He added that the whole economic aspect and social values are at stake due to the pandemic.
The Covid-19 is a pandemic has lots of implications, he said, and offered ways on how one can learn from the issue. ‘Take care of the one who has other health issues and listen to people,’ he said.
‘We are living in one world and we cannot minimise the connection between the rich and the poor. We have to really respect human rights and that is the only way we can really mature and help with the issue’, he said.
Jiten Khwairakpam, programme manager of community and policy TREAT Asia/amfAR, the foundation for Aids Research, Bangkok, gave a presentation on Covid-19 vaccine developments around the world.
He informed that 179 vaccine candidates, 33 clinical trial and 143 people are in pre-clinical stages for Covid-19 vaccines. Out of the 33 clinical stages, eight have started phase III. These eight trials include University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, CanSino biological/Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Sinovac, Sinopharm/Wuhan/Beijing Institute, Moderna/NAID, Pfizer /BioNtech, Gamaleya Research Institute, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
He also presented three centres on Covid-19 vaccines in India and trials including Serum Institute of India/ICMR, Bharat Biotech/ICMR, and Zydus Cadilla.