Our planet has a long history of exposure to fatal health crises and pandemics. These crises are mostly the result of an unprecedented disaster, which has forced people to compromise on their existing lifestyles. The COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse day-by-day, with interruptions in human activities, a huge death toll, and a direct hit on the global economy.
What is happening to thousands of patients who are suffering from other comorbidities in times of COVID? The Indian health system has to answer. Malaria and HIV/AIDS patients could arguably be the worst affected as reports about hydroxychloroquine and anti-retroviral drugs being used to treat COVID-19 patients has led to their acute shortage in drug stores. The list of diseases killing and disabling people is long in India, and every day that it ignores them, more and more are dying.
India’s healthcare infrastructure is incapable of dealing with this crisis today. Shortages in medical supplies and an inability to provide adequate testing are the major issues. However, the Prime Minister’s announcement to allocate Rs 15,000 crore for building infrastructure can strengthen the fight against coronavirus. Further, state governments are trying to expand facilities to deal with this situation. In India, there is a major shortage in the availability of beds in the hospitals. Bihar (one of the least-developed states) has 0.12 beds per thousand people, which is the state with the fewest beds per person. The states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (the so-called BIMARU states), where one in every four persons is below the poverty line, have less capacity than the national average and more than half of India’s population live in these (four) states.
The COVID-19-induced pandemic disturbs the whole food system, from the primary supply to the final demand. The impact in the agricultural and food demand includes various macro-economic aspects, significant instability in credit markets, exchange rates, energy, and primarily, the expected upwelling in unemployment, and the shrinkages in the overall economic activity.
COVID-19 pandemic impacts have shocked the global and national food systems. The shock is mainly due to inadequate preventive measurements, whose characteristics and intensity will be based on how governments and residents respond to, and how equipped they are for the crisis. For instance, it is difficult to make timely decisions or provide support to the vulnerable communities in the absence of useful data and tools, particularly where governments lack the means to advise food system management.
The food supply and demand channels, which indicate a decrease in food stock and a rise in food prices, can be directly affected by the pandemic. When the pandemic worsens, the purchasing power and the ability to produce and dispense food will indirectly be affected. However, the latter will vary concerning the degree of impact, and will excessively affect the vulnerable (generally women, elders, and children) and the poor (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2020).