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COVID: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Lessons for the Future
Two years ago, we were experiencing a nightmare of lockdowns, rising numbers of Covid deaths, shortages of oxygen and ICU beds. That immediate crisis has passed, and we have got used to the idea of living normally again. But, Covid has not gone away, and neither has the threat of fresh outbreaks from new diseases.
How prepared are we to face future threats? What are the lessons we need to urgently draw from Covid-19 so that we are able to better protect the public? What should we be doing to better prepare our health infrastructure to respond better to similar events in the future?
Soumya Swaminathan was most recently WHO’s Chief Scientist and previously, Deputy Director-General for Programmes. A paediatrician from India and a globally recognised researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she has 30 years of experience in clinical care and research, working throughout her career to translate research into impactful programmes. Dr. Swaminathan was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017, and focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy-making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools, also forging south-south partnerships in health sciences. From 2009 to 2011, she served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, Geneva.
An IAS officer who graduated from RV College of Engineering, Randeep D ia currently serving as Commissioner of Health & Family Welfare for the Government of Karnataka. He was formerly the Deputy Secretary of the Finance Department.
Rajani Surendar Bhat
Dr Rajani Surendar Bhat is a physician with additional qualifications as a pulmonologist, intensive care specialist and a palliative medicine physician. She is presently a consultant at SS Sparsh Hospitals, Rajarajeshwari Nagar. She has worked in various other premier tertiary care centres Apollo Hospital and Wockhardt (now Fortis) Hospital, in Bangalore, over the past decade as a consultant. She brings expertise in interventional pulmonology, medical law, ethics and end-of-life care. She also has a deep interest in public health, with a focus on rural primary care, and is a co-convenor of the Community Science Alliance, an initiative of Social Alpha’s health and wellness architecture. She has been a member of the Empowered Committee of the Delhi state administration providing medical advice for state government response to the first wave of COVID-19.
N S Prashanth
Prashanth N Srinivas is a medical doctor and public health researcher with experience in working in primary health care and community settings in southern Karnataka. He has worked at the intersections of healthcare and health systems with ecological and social systems with a particular focus on health inequities and social determinants of health. He leads the health equity cluster at the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru where his work critically examines the apparently transformative dimensions of technological solutions to health inequities vis-a-vis addressing fundamental issues of social inequality, exclusion and governance.
Thomas Abraham is a science communicator and writer with a particular interest in how infectious diseases have shaped human history. He is the author of Twentieth Century Plague: The Story of SARS, and Polio: The Odyssey of Eradication. He is currently working on a book on the Covid-19 pandemic.