The Hippocratic Oath and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: How India Is Fighting COVID-19

Abstract May 25, 2020

The world may have been fighting the Corona virus since February but it was not until 12thMarch when things started to look serious here in India, particularly in Mumbai. It was a regular college day for me and a text from my mother kick started my experience of the pandemic that was to follow. The text was about ‘2 probable positive cases in Andheri, a locality nearby my college’. That was the moment when it hit me that things were starting to get serious in Mumbai, very much like the rest of the country.

The Indian government was swift to take action as on the following Sunday (15th), authorities in Mumbai and many parts of the country started announcing temporary closure of educational institutions and workplaces. The very same day, the country witnessed its 100th positive case of the virus. Things went pretty much downhill from there as the virus had gained momentum and was rapidly spreading across the subcontinent, very much like the British Raj during the mid 1800s. But this was not a situation which was solvable with the help of prayers and Gandhian principles. This is where the humankind was in dire need of the support and help of two things: humanitarian efforts and science. You cannot expect to get out of a pandemic by praying. You need science. Science helps you where god and religion doesn’t. Science solves your crisis, when even god is helpless.

This was the moment when the Indian subcontinent and the world knew, that it would need its doctors and health professionals and sanitation workers to get out of this with as little fatalities as possible. And that is what the Indian government has done well till now.

The following 2 graphs will give you a statistical analysis of the situation till now.

The Hippocratic Oath is one of the most widely known Greek texts. It is an oath of ethics taken by any person practicing medicine. To simplify it, the oath says that any person practicing medicine must make the patient his/her full priority and give them the best possible treatment with as less harm as possible. Close to 0.9 million registered medical practitioners in India would now prove to their motherland and to the whole world that they respect the oath with full dignity.

India has always had a rich history when it comes to doctors and engineers. But that in itself is not enough to fight a pandemic. Healthcare professionals and doctors were in for the longest battle of their lives as the virus attacked the weakest point of India’s healthcare situation: LACK OF RESOURCES.

Approximately 1.3 lac beds with ICU and oxygen support around the country have been marked specially for battling the deadly virus. There are also 6.45 lac isolation beds earmarked for patients across the country. The shocking fact here is that a nation with almost 1.4BN population has only 970 hospitals dedicated to fighting the virus. Statistics and data have exposed the shortage of healthcare professionals and doctors in the Indian subcontinent.

Even Mumbai, arguably the most important city for the country and one of the most densely packed metros has a poor record when it comes to healthcare. Recently it was reported that all of 3500 beds have been occupied in the fight against the virus. Isn’t the number alarming? For a city with close to 1.9cr people under its roof, it only has 3500 beds? The city’s municipal commissioner would like to differ. He says the city has as many as 35000 beds for mild and asymptomatic cases and 4200 beds for critical ones. To put it simply, the city is well equipped with beds at the moment.

In times like these, weaknesses are bound to be exposed. It is not something which should be surprising.

India though has emerged far more victorious out of this situation as compared to economic and healthcare giants such as Italy, Spain, Germany, and USA. This has only been possible because of the pure dedication and nonstop hard work of the healthcare professionals in India. All these months, photos and stories of doctors isolating themselves by staying away from families have served as a proof of their greatness. Just when the country was about to suffer a setback, 30000 doctors volunteered and joined hands with their colleagues.

India also stepped up for itself when it came to manufacturing PPE kits and testing kits. Before the pandemic, nothing was produced in the nation and now close to 200,000 PPE kits are manufactured daily within the country. Also, close to a million masks are manufactured; all within the country.

To talk numbers, approximately from 10th May until now, India has seen a huge jump in number of recovered cases. It has been observed that the recovery percentage has grown everyday by 1-1.2% and this is surely commendable. It was also seen that close to 1000 patients were discharged across the country everyday in the 2nd  half of May.

Maharashtra still holds the record for highest number of patients discharged in a day (1202), even though it has the most number of cases in the country.

But every victory comes at a price. According to a report in the first week of May, 548 doctors, nurses, paramedics, and healthcare professionals were tested positive for the virus.

Weaknesses and shortcomings apart, one thing is surely clear: Indian healthcare has handled this pandemic better than most of the world’s giants, and the credits only go to the doctors, professionals, nurses and every single person in the healthcare industry, and of course the government J

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is a Sanskrit phrase which means ‘the world is one family’. India has proved this time and again, be it evacuation of its citizens from other countries, sending assistance to UN missions, sending military and economic support to its friends and in this case: sending medical assistance to other countries.

Why would a nation do that? Why would you help others when you yourself are reeling from a crisis? The answer: Cultural roots.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam being a Sanskrit phrase is taken very seriously here in India. It has been followed by generations of families and even today is passed on to the upcoming generations.

Indian government also has abided by these 2 words in the time of crisis.

So far, India has sent 85mn HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine) tablets and 500mn paracetamol tablets to 108 countries. This is apart from the 1000 tonnes of paracetamol granules that have been sent to make the tablets. Indian Air force and Indian Navy have been active contributors to this mission. Out of the 55 countries that received HCQ tablets from India, only 21 of them were provided on a commercial basis, rest of the 35 countries were given HCQ tablets as a goodwill gesture and as a sign of friendship and support.

Under Mission Sagar, India has sent medical assistance to multiple countries which includes food, medical teams, drugs and other essential commodities. India also sent healthcare teams to Kuwait and UAE to help them battle the virus.

This is how India, a nation tagged as ‘developing’ and ‘over-populated’ has fought a pandemic bravely. This is how India, a nation with sub-standard healthcare system, has managed to achieve overwhelming results in the fight against this virus, something the giants of the world failed to do so. And all this was done while helping other nations simultaneously.

This is how you fight a battle: TOGETHER.

At the time of publishing, the total tally of confirmed cases in India stood at 158K

Credits: TOI, Economic Times, Wikipedia, Indian Express, HT, Scroll, BBC, News18, India Today, NDTV, Deccan Herald, and https://www.covid19india.org/

-Samarth Oza

Call for Articles

Want to get featured? Send us your name, article, and if you want, social links to [email protected]!

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.