Medical Experts in India and the U.S. Discuss Covid-19 Response

In April 2022, the India Center hosted a discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic response in India and the U.S.  Associate Professor Varadraj Gurupur, Ph.D., from UCF’s School of Global Health Management and Informatics led a panel discussion with Dr. Anuradha Pichumani, executive director of the Sree Renga Hospital, and Dr. Amitha Marla, medical administrator of the A.J. Hospital & Research Centre, in India and Dr. Richard Selvaggi, medical director of the Briarcliff Health Center Oak Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Felicia Sims, R.N., rehabilitation manager at the Briarcliff Healthcare Center, in the U.S. discussed their experiences responding to COVID-19.

Faced with the pandemic, one of the biggest changes for the panelists was developing the science of the health delivery process as new information on the virus emerged simultaneous to trying to effectively treat patients. Marla and Pichumani explained the essential partnership between private and public healthcare systems in India’s COVID-19 response. With a population of more than 1.3 billion people, the ratio of physicians to overall population in India is lower than among U.S. healthcare professionals in India. Therefore they relied on community healthcare workers to reach rural communities and increase confidence in the healthcare system and vaccinations.

In both India and the U.S., physicians relied heavily on telehealth. Selvaggi believes that telehealth was critical to curbing the pandemic. Sims shared that her hospital, to minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure, increased telemedicine for chronic diseases such as COPD and hypertension for continuity of care. In 2020, India implemented telemedicine on a large scale amid COVID-19 and created guidelines to outline the legal practice of telemedicine.

Marla explained that her hospital stopped elective surgeries for one year to slow the pandemic.  Selvaggi had a similar experience in Texas, keeping preventative care patients at home during the start of the pandemic. In India, despite the nationwide lockdowns, systems were put in place to ensure ongoing care to dialysis and chemotherapy patients. As the science around COVID-19 is evolving, the future of cyclical outbreaks is unknown, however the panelists agree that research and cooperation among nations is necessary to combat future pandemics.

Watch the full discussion here.


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