Dr VG Somani, Drug Controller General (India), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India said that despite various challenges like drugs and medical equipment being black marketed at places, the Govt of India, along with state drug controllers, various ministries, and departments, have been continuously monitoring the COVID situation in the country and coming out with continuous guidelines.
Addressing the webinar on Self-Care for Self-Reliant India, jointly organised by FICCI and Bayer Consumer Health Division, Dr Somani said that while there are predictions of a third wave hitting the country, there have been continuous efforts to find newer solutions.
“Although the third wave might be milder in nature, it will, probably, affect various age groups. We need to be prepared to deal with this. As India combats the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to accelerate the momentum for the adoption of consumer health solutions, to ensure the national health system is supported at this time. By raising health awareness and putting in place well-defined regulations, consumers can be empowered to take proactive measures to manage minor ailments while also undertaking preventive action to boost immunity, thus reducing the need for healthcare practitioner interventions,” he said.
Speaking at the event, NK Ahuja, Drug Controller, Haryana and Chairman, OTC Sub Committee, Government of India said that self-care is a double-edged sword. “This is a matter of our health and therefore, we must be careful and doubly sure about what we do,” Ahuja added that we need to take the concept of self-help to the last man standing at the last mile. “We cannot leave anyone behind; everyone is in this together and it is our collective job to bring awareness, knowledge and understanding of the different tools that we have so that we use the better side of the sword,” he further added.
Jurate Svarcaite, Director General, Association of the European Self-Care Industry (AESGP) said that governments face unprecedented constraints on all aspects of their expenditure and healthcare cost are a prominent and growing burden. “Technology has the potential to change the delivery of healthcare and release the potential of self-care. Citizens are willing to accept more responsibility for their well-being and health care. Encouraging self-care and having the individual take responsibility with some interventions aimed at preventing ill-health or treating suitable conditions seem an obvious response. Health literacy is the key to achieving better health outcomes and empowering self-care. Self-care is the starting point for health care and should be an integral part of the national health policies and should be incentivised by government,” she added.
Arun Misra, Chair, FICCI OTC Task Force said that the factor of self-awareness has gone up in the country. “There is a heightened sense of self-care among people. From homemade remedies, Ayurveda, or yoga, we are using all tools and trying to make the most of it. We have now learnt how to use an oximeter, how to read it, how to look at temperature, and learnt when to take a paracetamol. We are keeping track of ground developments; we know what clinical trials are and what is the regulatory status of different vaccines,” he added.
Dilip Chenoy, Secretary-General, FICCI reiterated that the fundamental principle of care is that one needs to be fit themselves to take care of others. “As we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also accelerate the momentum of responsible self-care where people can actively take charge of their health in terms of preventive measures and treating minor illnesses. The important point of self-care and preventive healthcare is to lessen the burden on the health system. By promoting proactive health-seeking behaviour, India’s large working population can benefit from bolster productivity, he said.
On rebooting India through self-care, Sandeep Verma, Country Division Head, Bayer said, “The current times have highlighted the need for self-care, which can enhance productivity and one’s quality of life, driving India’s goal towards Atmanirbharta and becoming a $5 trillion economy in the next few years. At this crucial juncture, easing the burden on India’s healthcare infrastructure is imperative, while simultaneously equipping and empowering more than one billion Indians to make informed choices and pursue better health and nutrition. Bayer Consumer Health is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders through the country’s first Self-Care Council to enable responsible self-care in India, driving forward our vision of ‘Health for All, Hunger for None’. Through this endeavour, we hope to expand access to safe, convenient and effective daily health solutions.”
The panel discussion on Self-Care: The foundation for India being Self-Reliant (Atmanirbhar) emphasised the joint role of responsible self-care and increased health awareness in supporting India’s rise to a position of self-reliance. Prof YK Gupta, Principal Adviser, Translation Health Science and Technology Institute and Atul Kumar Nasa, Head of Office, Controlling & Licensing Authority and Deputy Drugs Controller with Drugs Control Department, Govt of NCT of Delhi; Manjari Gharat, Academician & President, Indian Pharmaceutical Association; Dr Avula Laxman, Senior Deputy Director, Indian Council of Medical Research also put forth their views.