Transparency and accountability are critical aspects in managing public health and pandemics

Transparency and accountability are critical aspects in managing public health and pandemics.

Just as India and the world is advancing and putting unlimited efforts to gain technological and economical heights, it is required that the same enthusiasm is put in the public healthcare system. Because, health in itself involves the lives of people. To strengthen the healthcare sector two important aspects are transparency and accountability. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic also forces us to analyse the importance of these factors.

Need for Transparency

Transparency involves the ability to see-through the system that includes- procedures, practices, outcomes, interconnectedness of various systems and stakeholders. It is essential to build up much needed confidence between patient-doctor, healthcare

provider, consumers, etc. In case of pandemics it provides much needed figures to trace, analyse the gravity of the situation and judge one’s abilities to fight it and contain it. Transparency is required at global level, between various countries right from the beginning and first threat posed by a pandemic. Transparency in health services opens up better prospects to welcome suggestions, criticism, point out loopholes and also put resources and funds in appropriate ways.

The current situation of the world gives insights into the issue of transparency. The novel coronavirus, main cause of COVID-19 disease emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. However, it was not before February that WHO emphasised on the seriousness of the problem. Even, the first human-to-human transmission was allegedly confirmed very late. This shows a huge lack of transparency on the Chinese side as well on the WHO’s side. Today, countries such as the US, Italy, Spain, etc. are suffering badly just because the virus couldn’t be contained in China itself !

Value of Accountability

Accountability is the virtue of accepting errors and communicating it to the person/organisation intended. It helps in formulation of code of conduct and encourages service-providers to follow the rules, good practices and have discipline.

The pandemic condition affecting the whole world raises questions on the accountability of China, that proper measures were not taken to check the spread of virus abroad. The gravity of the situation in these countries raises questions on the actual numbers in China.

Another instance can be taken from the economic package announced in India to fight coronavirus. A mere 1% of GDP is allocated to counter the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Also, the current situation reveals the gaps in the healthcare sector with shortage of hospitals, ventilators, PPEs to fight such unprecedented pandemics. On a national level, therefore the government can be held accountable for this.

The daily updates in the number of cases in the world and in India is good enough proof for lack of transparency. Also, a new virus ‘Hantavirus’ has been in the news which is transmitted by rodents, another one from China. It scares the world when coronavirus hasn’t been contained and a new virus has emerged.

Who should be held accountable for such instances? Who must have issued stricter measures to lock such deadly viruses within the country. These questions must be raised.

Therefore, the question of accountability discloses large scale interdependencies, discrepancies and even scams and other corrupt practices.

At the local level, in the case of public health care scenario it points out the shortcomings of district administration, particularly in rural areas. Also, at the national level, since, large number of people approach private healthcare providers, it is an utmost necessity for a body to check their practices and hold them accountable for their actions. Also, not just accountability, corrective measures after that are equally required.

Corrective Measures

Therefore, it is required that whenever such a situation arises, countries practice greater transparency to communicate the measures in coordination with each other and discuss all possible cures. It is also equally important on the part of accountability that countries must be prepared to handle such sudden pandemics. Necessary allocations must be made to healthcare always.

Hence, accountability and transparency together help to promote quality care and access to resources at the right time and help to reduce the pandemic events.

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