In a speech to students at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), former Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja stressed the importance for states to invest in public health to mitigate the risks of responding to crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A major lesson from the COVID-19 response is that states that do not invest in their government health systems risk compromising their ability to respond to a crisis. In the short term, it is imperative that governments continue to strengthen their public health systems and increase their capacity, ”she said during the virtual presentation at the Foundation Day conference of the Center for Public Policy (CPP) at the IIMB.

Shailaja added that the ongoing crisis could be seen as an opportunity to unleash the potential of human capital, “to orient workers and labor markets to new opportunities for inclusive and sustainable growth, as the pandemic has proved itself. be a litmus test for governance around the world. “

Shailaja, who was also in charge of social justice and the development of women and children in the previous cabinet led by Pinarayi Vijayan, suggested encouraging businesses based on innovation, new technologies and entrepreneurship with a focus on gender and women’s empowerment.

Citing a rigorous testing regime, a clear communication and people management strategy, through campaigns such as ‘break the chain’ and coordination of activities between ministries and departments as critical policy areas in Kerala’s response to the pandemic, Shailaja said a sustainable response to the pandemic, although made possible by a robust health system, also relies on the resilience of many other sectors.

“In Kerala, the Ministry of Finance has released all the necessary funds. The health department, the police, the IT department, the public distribution system and others worked together. Thousands of young men and women across the state have volunteered over the past year to help the government take charge of COVID-19. Technological innovations and artificial intelligence have been effectively integrated into the process, ”she explained.

“Population density and the aging of the population among the challenges of the fight against the pandemic”

The former Minister of Health of Kerala also added that the challenges of combating the pandemic in the state included demographic factors such as population density and aging of the population, and epidemiological challenges such as the ‘Growing incidence of lifestyle-related diseases that cause co-morbidities and increased risk, particularly during the pandemic.

She stressed that these challenges have been met by paying special attention to prevention and primary care and by converting primary health care centers into “well equipped” family health care centers.

“The fact that more than 50% of the population of the state depends on the public health system, against 33% in 2016, testifies to the confidence of the population in the health system of the State”, he said. she said stressing the importance of public trust. and cooperation.

Affectionately known as Teacher Shailaja, she was the recipient of the 2021 Janani Award for Leadership in Public Health instituted by the Integrated Health and Welfare Council (IHW) and the University’s Open Society Award. Central Europe (CEU) 2021 in recognition of its commitment to public health services. regarding Kerala’s response to the Nipah outbreak and the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. She was also invited as a panel member to the Third Intersessional Meeting of the Human Rights Council man for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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