YB WEB DESK. Dated: 9/16/2020 12:34:51 PM

The spread of the novel coronavirus has reinforced the need for unified strategies to deal with the global crisis. Even when India went under a complete lockdown in March-end and inter/intra-state borders were sealed in a bid to break the chain of the virus, the movement of essential and medical goods and services was not disrupted so as to enable effective care and the supply of basics. Now, six months later, with Unlock 4.0 in place since September 1, most of the services have been reopened in order to bring the affected economy back on track. But the curbs by some states on the supply of medical oxygen — a prerequisite for the treatment of Covid-19 patients — smacks of a response devoid of cooperation. Reminding the states that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity, the Centre has instructed them to lift any such hindrances from their borders. Unlike hand sanitisers and masks, for which new players quickly got into production to meet the surge in demand, the ramping up of the oxygen sector, being capital-intensive and technical, is not so simple. No doubt, with India’s caseload of over 47 lakh and daily infections in excess of 95,000, the situation is challenging. The state health departments feel overwhelmed and under-equipped to handle the pressure. However, at the same time, the pandemic has once more awoken the world to the importance of unity and solidarity in dealing with crises. There has been all-round recognition of cooperation, as was evident in the facilitation of the supply of medicines, such as hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir, ventilators and PPE kits. Now, with vaccines round the corner, countries and companies have entered into pacts with the aim of benefiting one and all. This multilateral commitment was palpable at the UN General Assembly on Friday, with 169 nations, including India, adopting its omnibus resolution on a comprehensive and coordinated response to the pandemic. It aims at ‘unhindered timely access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable diagnosis, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines, and essential health technologies for the Covid-19 response’.


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