Edition 23 | July 25, 2023

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to present to you the next edition of the monthly newsletter by the Lancet Citizens' Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System. This edition discusses the research examining mental health aspects of the pandemic with the potential to mitigate these mental health consequences and stengthening the global response to future pandemics. It further includes an analysis on understanding barriers to scaling up HPV vaccination in India, an understanding of the demand for healthcare among families of high-risk newborns, and more. 

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This Month's Highlight

Reimagining the journey to recovery: The COVID-19 pandemic and global mental health

This Special Issue of PLOS Medicine set out to document research examining mental health aspects of the pandemic with the potential to mitigate such mental health consequences, strengthening the global response to future pandemics, while informing mental health policy and practice more generally as societies are exhorted to “build back better”. We were particularly interested in research which addressed vulnerable populations and the pandemic’s impact on existing mental health inequities; health system responses to increased demand for mental health care; evaluations of policy interventions which may have had positive or harmful effects on mental health; and mental health consequences from a life-course perspective, write Vikram Patel , Daisy Fancourt, Toshi A. Furukawa, Lola Kola.

Work from the Commission

Barriers to scaling up HPV vaccination in India

The stigma around reproductive health issues in India is a significant barrier. Women often feel uncomfortable discussing symptoms of diseases associated with sexual organs like the cervix. Coupled with cancer, this problem only worsens. Misplaced beliefs of cancer as a contagious disease, a punishment, and a death sentence have stigmatised cancer as well. Eventually, the stigma associated with these diseases leads to a delay in seeking medical care once the symptoms of cervical cancer develop, write Parth Sharma, Anoushka Arora and Siddhesh Zadey.

Political motivation as a key driver for universal health coverage

Variation in public investments to health, health outcomes, and progress toward universal health coverage across countries is vast and neither economic status nor the knowledge on solutions have borne out to be binding constraints to health improvements. The drivers for universal health coverage go beyond the macro-economic context of a nation, and as pointed out by scholars, are deeply linked with the extent of political prioritization of healthcare, write Sandhya Venkateswaran, Shruti Slaria, Sampriti Mukherjee.

Views & Opinions 

Understanding Demand for Healthcare Among Families of High-risk Newborns

Low birthweight and prematurity is now the most common cause of child death in India. Apart from improving publicly provided newborn care, we need to communicate to families how vulnerable their babies are and how important appropriate care is to their survival, write Taha Ibrahim Siddiqui, Nayana Nair, Diane Coffey.

Where lies the future of Ayurveda-inspired drug discovery?

The one-target one-drug or magic bullet approach was applicable mainly for infectious diseases; however, it may not be sufficient for non-communicable diseases and metabolic syndromes such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and metabolic disorders. It is necessary to shift the paradigm to multi-target, multi-drug discovery leading to synergistic formulation, writes Bhushan Patwardhan.


Inducting family physicians to offer primary care in remote areas of India is neither feasible nor necessary

Instead of revisiting these older ideas of public health cadres and family physicians, the need may now instead be for a proactive approach which brings sensitivity to local cultures, social determinants, and essential public health functions to the forefront within a new and integrated vision of primary care as is being explored by organisations like Oak Street Health8 and El Centro Family Health. While a specialised public health cadre may still be helpful within such an approach in India, the family physician may not be a practically possible solution in all contexts, writes Nachiket Mor.

Featured Partner

Dvara Research is a policy research institution based in India. Their mission is to ensure that every household and every enterprise has complete access to suitable financial services and social security through a range of channels that enable them to use services securely and confidently. Dvara Research tries to layout pathways to enhance health financing in India to achieve universal healthcare. Dvara Research is providing research support to the financing workstream of the Commission.

Help us develop a roadmap to achieve universal health coverage in India by visiting our website: https://www.citizenshealth.in/

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We love hearing back from you! Please send your comments, suggestions, and contributions for these newsletters, including research highlights and published features to citizenhealthin@gmail.com

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