IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 15th Jan

“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #315 :“How to Build Trust in Vaccines ?

How to Build Trust in Vaccines ? | UPSC

Chapal Mehra
How to Build Trust in Vaccines ?

Chapal Mehra isPublic Health Specialist and Director, Pi Consulting

      HEADLINES:

Building trust in vaccines

      CENTRAL THEME:

By being accountable and transparent and countering misinformation, the government can improve vaccine intake

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Health : Education

      MAINS QUESTION:

Is an open discussion and comprehensive public education important aspects before delivering any  vaccines? Critically examine the role of public information. -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Role of science
  • Fear and dilemma
  • Remedy
  • Decision making
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • ROLE OF SCIENCE : Over the last year, as the novel coronavirus has plagued humanity killing thousands, the role of science and particularly vaccines has become critical.
  • HOPE FOR MANY : To millions, vaccines represent the possibility of a swift end to an uncontrollable pandemic.It is not surprising then that recent news of promising vaccines has been greeted with hope and faith.

In India, however, lack of transparency and public information have started creating a distrustful narrative around the two vaccine candidates.

  • ACCELERATED APPROVALS : The accelerated approval of Covaxin without Phase III trials data puts forth several critical questions.

      BODY: 

FEAR AND SCEPTICISM

  • TRUST FACTOR : The role of the vaccine in putting an end to this pandemic is critical. Yet public trust in such vaccines is indispensable.
  • SUCCESS OF IMMUNISATION : In short, a vaccine-led control effort will only be as effective as the public confidence and support it garners.
  • DILEMMA : However, as experts and politicians engage in public sparring, the general public’s fear and scepticism around these vaccines is only growing.
  • PUBLIC EDUCATION : This underscores the urgent need and critical importance of transparency as also public education and participation in this process.

For the public, there exist multiple concerns around any large-scale vaccination programme .

  • CONCERNS : A vast majority of these concerns are fuelled by a lack of trust in approval processes, insufficient information combined with limited health literacy and a poor understanding of the protection vaccines provide.
  • FAITH IN INSTITUTIONS : These concerns are exacerbated when you couple them with the fact that trust in public institutions has been quite low, especially in the wake of the lockdowns and economic desperation.

REMEDY

  1. PARTICIPATIVE FRAMEWORK : The government and public institutions need to start by building open, participative frameworks for building trust, and engaging and informing all stakeholders, especially experts and communities, on these vaccines.
  2. A NATIONAL FORUM : A forum should include representatives from all stakeholders, where both the scientific basis for approval and the roll-out strategy need to be discussed.
  3. INTEGRATED APPROACH : Simultaneously, there needs to be public education and information through large-scale State- and local-level networks where people are informed, sensitised and their feedback taken.
  4. STAKEHOLDERS : These efforts need to be guided by scientific experts, communication and community specialists and leaders.
  5. FIGHTING FAKE NEWS : This is important because misinformation about the vaccines is rife. This is potentially damaging for any mass vaccination programme.

PARTICIPATORY DECISION-MAKING

  • ASSURANCE : The people who need to take this vaccine need to understand the programme, be assured of the vaccine’s efficacy but also be involved in decision-making.
  • LOCAL MASCOTS : Local leaders from public figures to religious leaders need to be made Ambassadors in this process.

Local networks from self-help to faith groups, the media and even educational institutions need to participate to help citizens understand its importance and build trust.

  • DOUBT RESOLUTION CENTRES : It is important that the process is not just directive but participative with people being able to ask questions and offer suggestions.

It is instructive to note that this will be the largest immunisation exercise to be rolled out globally. 

  • OPEN GROUND UP PARTICIPATIVE MODEL : Yet, in India we still have no idea what the roll-out and access strategy is. This is why an accountable, open, ground-up participative model needs to be implemented.

This conversation should be led by experts, local and community leaders, not political leaders.
 

  • POLITICAL GAINS : In fact, using vaccines for political gains and image building, though not unexpected, will not only be unethical but counterproductive.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • NEED OF THE HOUR : A simple, democratic, yet effective way of improving uptake while reducing costs is by creating participatory frameworks of engaging experts and communities.

Science has done its job. Its right time we educate the people about vaccines.

  • ACTION TIME : Now it is time for the state to do what is expected in a democracybe accountable, build trust and counter misinformation with openness and communication and not obfuscation.
SUGGESTED READING : HANDLING FAKE NEWS 
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | How to Build Trust in Vaccines ?

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