Responding to COVID-19 in Indian public health


Background and objectives

With over 1.35 billion people and less than 2% of GDP spent on health, India’s public healthcare system suffers due to poor infrastructure and lack of medical staff. The outbreak of COVID-19 in developing economies such as India presents additional challenges to public hospitals that are already stretched to the limit. Central and state governments took radical action to minimise the spread of COVID-19, leaving vulnerable people in a situation never seen before by many Indians.

There is little known about how Indian public hospitals have responded to the pandemic with respect to new policies/strategies and innovations in terms of new practices introduced. Hence, this project addresses the following questions:

  1. What new policies/strategies and practices have been implemented by public hospitals in India in response to COVID-19?
  2. How effective have these policies/strategies been?

The Monash University team is collaborating with four public hospitals in North India:

  1. All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi;
  2. All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand state;
  3. Postgraduate Institute for Medical Education and Research based in Chandigarh, Punjab state; and
  4. Government Medical College and Hospital in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh state.

Research design

The research team is conducting interviews via telephone and/or video with key informants at each of these hospitals that include the Director/CEO, Medical Superintendent, Head of the School of Public Health, and the senior executive responsible for COVID-19.

Data collected will be analysed to identify (i) the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the public hospitals in terms of demand from Covid-19 infections and the resources available/needed to respond to this demand; (ii) changes in hospital policies/strategies that were necessary for its response and how quickly and effectively these were implemented, (iii) the specific daily operational practices that have been implemented and their impact outcomes. In addition, the study will assess the level of government support to hospitals during this pandemic and how appropriate and effective this has been.

Potential policy implications

The findings will enable the research team to identify how different strategies and practices have impacted on the hospitals’ capability to deal with COVID-19.

Read the final report