Yearender 2020: 10 Health And Sanitation Lessons From 2020 Experts Advise To Take In To 2021

Yearender 2020: 10 Health And Sanitation Lessons From 2020 Experts Advise To Take In To 2021

As the rather unprecedented year comes to an end, here are some of the important lessons about health and sanitation that were learnt and must be taken along in 2021 and beyond
Yearender 2020: 10 Health And Sanitation Lessons From 2020 Experts Advise To Take In To 2021Here are some vital lessons about health and sanitation which experts recommend must be carried forward to 2021
  • More than 17.74 lakh lives were lost due to COVID-19 pandemic this year
  • Measures like hand hygiene and physical distancing should continue: Experts
  • Link between environment and human health is vital yet ignored: Experts

New Delhi: The Year 2020 will go down as the year of the worst pandemic to hit the world in 100 years, afterall over 17.74 lakh people have died due to COVID-19 worldwide. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that first emerged a year ago in Wuhan, China, has spared no place in the world. The frontline workers and healthcare professionals emerged as super-heroes in this fight against the coronavirus. Another life saviour in this crisis been has handwashing and overall focus on social distancing, overall hygiene and sanitation. Here are some vital lessons about health and sanitation which experts recommend must be carried forward to 2021.

Also Read: IT Ministry Launches Challenge For Strengthening COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network CoWIN

Hand Hygiene- An Old Lesson New Relevance

If an age-old practice came in handy during the COVID-19 crisis, it was the importance of hand hygiene. For years, efforts have been made to promote handwashing as an essential habit to prevent diseases caused by germs and viruses. Yet, a lot of people did not take handwashing seriously. However, the coronavirus outbreak once again underlined the importance of how this simple step can go a long way in saving lives. According to Dr Shweta Khandelwal, Public Health Foundation Of India (PHFI),

We have all been taught to wash our hands every time we return from outside, before eating food and after using the toilet. Yet, if we see the upward graph of soap sales, it was this year. It was as if we were discovering the value of washing hands for the first time. This habit will help for a long time if we continue it even in the New Year and years to come. It will help prevent many more diseases other than COVID-19.

‘Hygiene’ Cannot Be Limited To Handwashing

Dr Vishal Sehgal, Medical Director, Portea Medical, a healthcare brand that focuses on providing home quarantine solutions said that in the year 2020, people have adopted ‘hygiene’ in many more ways than hand hygiene. He highlighted that people have now started paying attention to respiratory hygiene, nasal and oral hygiene, food hygiene, air hygiene, and surface hygiene. He said that while coronavirus has caused havoc globally, the only good thing is that it has taught people the significance of sanitation and safe waste disposal along with hygienic living.

According to Dr. K K Aggarwal, President of the Confederation of Medical Association of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO) and Former President, Indian Medical Association (IMA), because people are increasingly adopting a more hygienic lifestyle and better sanitation, diarrhoea, typhoid and jaundice cases will reduce in the country. He said,

I believe we can now dream of India becoming free from diarrhoea, typhoid and jaundice. These diseases are food and water-borne but focus on sanitation has increased among people tremendously this year. If people continue to follow proper hygiene and sanitation, it will be interesting to see how it will impact these diseases in the coming years. We have already started observing a downward trend in the death caused due to these diseases. During our visits to mortuaries and crematoriums, we see that among non-COVID death, diseases like Tuberculosis, diarrhoea, typhoid and jaundice are reducing as the cause. A comprehensive data on this, when it will come, will provide a more accurate and wider picture.

He further said that diseases like Tuberculosis, flu and other respiratory disorders can be reduced significantly if people continue to follow respiratory hygiene. He asserted,

Continue the habit of wearing masks when out. Always sneeze or cough into a napkin or in the folded elbow. Also remember to maintain a physical distance of at least three feet from people who are coughing, sneezing or talking loudly or singing.

He added that this year has reminded us that food needs to be cleaned and sanitised properly before cooking and consuming it. This will help fight food-poisoning which widely prevalent in the country. This habit will also help fight the food-related allergies caused due to pesticides, insecticides and chemical fertilisers, he said.

Also Read: Opinion: Atmanirbhar Poshan – Making India A Nutrition Superpower

Nutrition Is Significant For Boosting Immunity

The importance of having a strong immune system gained prominence this year, said Dr. Jagmeet Madan, President, Indian Dietetic Association. She said that when it comes to the immune system, one thing that COVID-19 has taught us is that while we may not have control over factors like age and genes, we can definitely boost immunity by controlling our lifestyle choices, nutrition intake, sleep, rest and physical activity.

This year, people tried increasing the intake of immunity boosters like turmeric, ‘kadhas’, and simple herbal teas in their diet, she said. Dr. Madan added,

A well-balanced diet comprising all major food groups, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables must become a lifestyle for people now.

Prioritise Food Security

One of the lessons in 2020 for the government, according to Basanta Kumar Kar, International Development Professional and Recipient of the Global Nutrition Leadership Award is prioritising food security. He said that the country’s food security programme had proved to be a lifeline in the uncertain time of crisis. He said that the pandemic has shed light on the inequality of access to basic resources among people in the society and so food security for each person should be proritised and strengthened. He emphasised on making people self-sufficient and self-reliant in food production and said that the governments must continue promoting locally produced foods and kitchen gardens.

Mental Health Is Just As Important As Physical Health

Shumita Kakkar, Founder and Director of United We Care, a startup focused on counselling people battling mental health issues said that by following strict stay-at-home orders/recommendations and working from home, people may have protected themselves from the coronavirus but in doing so, many individuals felt extremely lonely, longed to participate in their communities, lost their jobs, or were unable to continue their studies. She said,

While COVID-19 acted as a cause of mental health problems in the year 2020 to a large extent, it also brought ‘mental health’ to the mainstream. People now talk about the mental health issues and the stigma around it is breaking away. They have started understanding that mental health is as important as physical health.

Also Read: COVID-19 Has Shown The Importance Of Strengthening Epidemic Prevention To Avoid Global Health Crisis: WHO Chief

Strengthening Public Healthcare Is The Need Of The Hour

Dr Ravi Mohanka, Chief Surgeon and Head of Department, Liver Transplant and HPB Surgery, Global Hospital, Mumbai highlighted that the year 2020 engulfed the world suddenly and doctors, hospitals, government were unprepared and were soon overwhelmed. While, they rose to the occasion, reorganized themselves, redirected resources and served patients in need, sometimes at the cost of the ultimate sacrifice, of their own lives, it is high time that governments recognise the importance of investing more in public healthcare system in the country. Dr Mohanka added,

2020 was a significant one in terms of medical learnings. The planned surgeries had to be postponed, but emergency care, such as life-saving transplants continued. The country became self-sufficient in making ventilators, PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment), medicines and vaccines. But this is not enough. We have to build a better healthcare system to manage future outbreaks in a better way and prevent deaths.

He further added that medical capacities have usually been taken for granted but 2020 has taught that even the richest of nations are limited in their capacity to treat people if there is a large outbreak of a disease. He said that investments are required right from equipping healthcare system with the right tools to increasing the number of people involved in the sector.

Embrace Teleconsultations And Use of Technologies

According to Dr Mohanka, the country embraced technology this year like never before. He said,

This year we as healthcare providers learnt the importance of technology and teleconsultations to continue taking care of our patients. It provides a safe interactive system between patients, both infected and uninfected, and clinicians. National and international medical organisations should consider its inclusion in their guidelines updates.

Also Read: Masks Alone May Not Stop COVID-19 Spread Without Physical Distancing, Study Says

Partnership Among Countries Can Help Fight Health Crisis

Dr. Mohanka highlighted that one of the major takeaways from 2020 is that anything can be achieved with global partnerships. He said,

The researchers were able to make promising vaccines within one year, which typically takes at least 10 years, against a virus we didn’t even know existed one year ago. It is a huge achievement and this became possible only because of global partnerships and exchange of technologies.

Health And Environment Are Intimately Linked

According to environmentalist Dr. Rajendra Singh, also known as the Waterman of India, one lesson from 2020 that is staring the humanity in the face is the fact that human beings live well beyond natural boundaries. He said,

We have been constantly talking about this and even a number of scientists and researchers have highlighted that the health of human beings is intimately linked with the environment. But the governments around the world, corporates and people continue to ignore. COVID-19 was a result of this negligence.

He also added that with reduced human activities and interference with nature during the strict lockdown, there was a rapid return of clear blue skies, fresh air, and clean water rivers; the chirping of birds, the arrival of dolphins in coastal regions, and even rapid healing of the ozone layer. He said that the year has re-established that human beings are messing the environment up very badly. Dr Singh said,

If we continue living unsustainably post COVID-19, there will be many more deadly pandemics in the future which we will not be able to prevent.

Stay Away From Misinformation And Myths

Another important lesson from 2020 which should become a habit for life is researching before believing, said Dr. Tanaya Narendra, Sexual and Reproductive Health Expert, Pee Safe, a personal hygiene brand. She said,

In 2020, we saw some extremely weird information spreading fast among people like warm weather will stop the pandemic, eating garlic will prevent infection, spraying alcohol can kill coronavirus, if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds then you don’t have COVID-19 and what not! While these rumours sound funny, these are very dangerous as people get misled into taking wrong decisions. So always do your research before believing anything you receive via social media or any other source and reach out to professionals when in doubt.

Also Read: Coronavirus Myths Explained: Are Children And Youngsters Less Vulnerable To Corona?

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,66,30,634 and 38,22,022 have died; 5,80,25,717 are active cases and 11,47,82,895 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 3:30 am.


2,96,33,105 62,224Cases
2,83,88,100 1,07,628Recovered
3,79,573 2,542Deaths
In India, there are 2,96,33,105 confirmed cases including 3,79,573 deaths. The number of active cases is 8,65,432 and 2,83,88,100 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

59,24,773 7,652

1,41,440 8,982

56,69,179 15,176

1,14,154 1,458


27,77,010 5,041

1,62,303 9,859

25,81,559 14,785

33,148 115


27,48,204 12,246

1,12,792 1,456

26,23,904 13,536

11,508 166

Tamil Nadu

23,78,298 11,805

1,25,215 11,669

22,23,015 23,207

30,068 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,20,134 5,741

75,134 4,879

17,32,948 10,567

12,052 53

Uttar Pradesh

17,03,207 270

7,221 890

16,74,072 1,104

21,914 56

West Bengal

14,68,044 3,268

20,046 1,125

14,30,949 2,068

17,049 75


14,31,498 228

3,078 148

14,03,569 364

24,851 12


9,88,172 609

11,717 943

9,63,113 1,544

13,342 8


9,50,133 172

5,619 848

9,35,658 1,006

8,856 14


8,59,526 3,405

44,358 3,436

8,11,780 6,799

3,388 42


8,21,078 352

8,884 658

8,02,187 1,006

10,007 4

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,649 224

3,610 331

7,76,424 528

8,615 27


7,66,357 228

3,703 374

7,53,584 564

9,070 38


7,17,949 410

4,360 412

7,04,075 813

9,514 9


6,06,436 1,556

19,933 528

5,82,993 2,070

3,510 14


5,89,153 628

10,802 1,111

5,62,701 1,691

15,650 48


4,66,590 3,415

41,184 475

4,21,378 2,906

4,028 34


3,43,793 184

2,646 416

3,36,058 596

5,089 4


3,37,449 274

3,642 266

3,26,822 515

6,985 25

Jammu And Kashmir

3,08,726 715

12,407 1,125

2,92,114 1,830

4,205 10

Himachal Pradesh

1,99,197 321

4,050 382

1,91,737 691

3,410 12


1,63,048 327

4,175 231

1,55,926 548

2,947 10


1,13,192 355

4,668 279

1,06,828 629

1,696 5


61,200 40

486 21

59,917 58

797 3


61,096 785

8,744 301

51,354 476

998 8


60,385 536

4,886 65

54,870 596

629 5


42,759 450

4,430 99

37,579 542

750 7

Arunachal Pradesh

31,938 290

2,849 40

28,934 326

155 4


23,854 101

2,972 229

20,423 327

459 3


19,649 38

552 20

18,898 57

199 1


18,659 209

3,239 67

15,136 273

284 3


15,899 268

3,637 45

12,191 312

71 1

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,473 9

61 2

10,408 7



9,297 61

484 36

8,768 96

45 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,280 11

105 4

7,049 15


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