This week’s intro comes from Deepika Saluja (EV 2016), who just started as an IHP resident.
“On 15th August, when I was about to leave India for my 3-month internship at ITM Antwerp, India’s 72nd Independence Day was celebrated – the last one for the ruling party (i.e. BJP) before the general elections scheduled in 2019. In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the country’s biggest National Health Insurance Scheme ever (Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan), dubbed as ‘Modicare’ and renamed multiple times since its first announcement on 1st February, 2018.
While arriving in Antwerp, I heard the news of the state of Kerala being hit by one of worst floods of the century, killing around 370 and displacing around 1.5 million people from their homes. More than just the nature’s fury, unpreparedness for emergencies like this and unjustified human interventions (35 out of the state’s 42 dams were opened at once for the first time in history) amplified the scale of destruction in the state. While thousands of defense troops along with the Disaster Response team are carrying out the rescue operations, disasters of this scale make me (and many others) wonder about the resilience and responsiveness of our public administrative systems. The CAG audit [the CAG is the supreme audit institution of India] report confirmed none of these dams had an Emergency Action Plan, Operation & Maintenance Manual or a dam-break analysis, and neither was Kerala registered for flood forecasting under the Central Water Commission’s Radar.
In the coming months, during my internship, I will try to link some of these Indian events & trends with the broader global health policy agenda, architecture and paradigms (planetary health, for example). I also hope to cover a few global health events & conferences – among others, the Liverpool symposium on HSR.
Slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information I am processing for the newsletter in the first week of my internship, I am starting to realize the scale of such incidents and disasters and their perpetuating implications on the coming generations. While there seems a lot to be done to improve the situation, what gives hope is to have so many organisations, communities and individuals with shared beliefs and commitment to serve humanity. Dr. Tedros’ first annual letter comes as a reminder that we stand for it together and we will do it. “
Enjoy your reading.
The editorial team.
(you find the pdf of the newsletter here: IHP485 )