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  A major lesson from COVID-19 response is that states that do not invest in their government health system are at risk of compromising their capacity to respond to a crisis, former Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja said on Saturday.

She was delivering the Foundation Day Lecture of the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore this evening, in a virtual mode.

“We must view this crisis as an opportunity to unleash the potential of the human capital, to orient workers and labour markets towards new opportunities for inclusive and sustainable growth as the pandemic has proved to be a litmus test for governance, across the world,” Shailaja said.

“We must focus on encouraging enterprises that are based on innovation, new technologies and entrepreneurship with focus on gender and women empowerment,” she was quoted as saying in a release.

Shailaja, as the Health Minister, had earned praise for leading Kerala’s fight against Covid and NIPAH virus.

Stating that Kerala drew heavily on its crisis management experiences from the 2018 floods and from fighting the NIPAH virus outbreak, she observed that a society that is organised around the welfare of all humans forms the bedrock for building back better from the pandemic.

Noting that as countries enter different stages of the pandemic, leaders must alter their course of action and update their response to meet recurring waves of the pandemic and other natural disasters, Shailaja said “we have to establish best practice models and invest in our health systems and pandemic preparedness.” Such a response should be compassionate, caring and humane to take everyone along, on the path of development, she added.  

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