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Scenario Planning

April 30, 2021 / By 

The start of India’s vaccination programme in January this year was very promising, and it will be extended in its third phase from the 1st of May 2021. Most of us were impressed with how well this rollout was planned at the conception level with only two active vaccine makers. With the experience of implementing one of the world’s largest immunisation drive, it was predicted as a moderately comfortable implementation program. However, the COVID vaccination drive began falling apart in its second phase. Many states have reported a shortage in the supply which resulted in shutting many centres in the past few weeks. I am still not sure if this is a genuine or political move. But the fact is, manufacturers are still overstressed with their production line, and there is no sign of improving the supply to match the demand.

I am not very keen on throwing numbers at you to support any of the thoughts as I strongly believe that whether it’s a state government or a central one, there is no reliable resource available to reconcile the entire supply chain data of a vaccine. And what is happening out today is sheer politics with zero accountability.

We even had a big pat on the back for the grand success of controlling the COVID in its first wave. But current daily coronavirus cases count scream how poorly we are managing our strategy at every single level of the system. The death rate in India is also at its peak since last year and appears to be growing fast. 

So what is the crisis out here? And how did we come to this? We have growing coronavirus cases daily, with quite a few critical ones, some need Remdesivir, a few requiring oxygens, a few need ventilators. We are struggling to cope with demand & supply at every single level of the system. You may ask if everything was going so smoothly a couple of months back, what exactly have transferred us in this situation. Is the government at fault? The answer is scenario planning from our administrators and a bit of our carelessness as a citizen. 

In my viewpoint, as a designer, administrators or policymakers possibly went wrong in the contingency planning part as follows – 

  1. When cases were kind of under control, every single department was relaxed in their administration regimes. No norms were followed neither COVID appropriate behaviours.
  2. The jumbo COVID centres on which local municipal corporations splurge a lot last year were shut in a few months without any reconciliation of inventories. And now the administrators called for fresh tenders for new centres to be built. And I am afraid by the time we build new ones, we could tackle this wave too.
  3. Schools, religious places and several other public places rushed to open without relevant infrastructure for the new normal. We need to pay attention to if we maintain social distancing. Most of the places are still not designed to suit new rules post-COVID.   
  4. There was a shortage of oxygen last year too, and the government struggled a lot. But it was overlooked in the steady stage of COVID 19. 
  5. In the interim time, nobody put efforts to think, plan & implement new production lines supplementary to the current infrastructure.
  6. There were no SOP’s about medication and the line of treatment so it would help for pharma companies to do their bit of scenario planning.
  7. Dejectedly, there was a lack in the planning of crematoriums. Administrators are perplexed to react rationally.
  8. And last but not least, since we don’t have very articulated systems/policies in place, citizens hold themselves back to engage with administration whether it’s taking up the COVID test with the slightest symptom or committing to a vaccine.

The best solution to these challenges is scenario planning. Scenario planning is one of the critical aspects of visualising risk & roadblocks in multiple situations in the future. This is a structured way for organisations [here government] to think about the future and plan or alter their policies for an issue or situation. This helps to mitigate the risk and create a strategy. The structured way also increases your readiness for a crisis and keeps your system in place. This is contingency planning. It’s still not late and I am sure with a bit of human-centred visualisation skills & aptitude we can contribute to make things better in society and keep the system ready for any of these kinds of demanding situations. Sadly, mismanagement, negligence and lack of planning push us into danger all the time whether it is raining in Mumbai or COVID crisis. And I am confident that designers with their lateral thinking ability and user-centric design approach can certainly contribute to policymaking.

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