02 August, 2021

The Missing Link: Public Health

What ails India? Why has it not been able to control the pandemic? What must it do to secure the future—to forestall a bigger third wave, and the next mass killer that is sure to come? There’s a big jigsaw piece that has been starkly conspicuous by its absence in India. Historically, and now. And it’s a question of thinking politically about health.

Photograph by PTI
The Missing Link: Public Health

Is not my health in my own hands? That is what we have been taught from childhood. Health is maintained by living right, avoiding ind­iscretion or excesses, keeping in balance the life forces within.  Keep body and mind clean and you will keep diseases at bay. These arguments are quite familiar to us. In truth they are spurious, and need to be revised.

True, there are a few diseases of ‘self-harm’—from substance addictions and promiscuous sex, for example, but they are not what we are discussing here. If I fall ill with tuberculosis, typhoid, or any of the innumerable infectious diseases widely prevalent in India, am I to blame myself? They were controlled in many countries early in the twentieth century. Why are they yet uncontrolled in India? Does not the government have some role in my illness? This is a critically important question.

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