Provision of basic services, food security, housing facilities and measures to improve quality of human life are precursors to behaviour change and improvements in health.

In December 2019, the news of the spread of COVID-19 in China came into the public domain. In India, there was no perceived severity of the disease nor were there preventive measures taken by the state till March. Since then, we have jumped from a one-day Janata Curfew to four lockdowns, all with no forewarning.The consequences of the historical neglect of the right to health are most visible in the time of a pandemic, and the worst affected are the poor and marginalised. In this context, post lockdown, a top-down vertical health programme will just be a populist, medicalised measure that will fail to ensure rights of people as patients, workers and citizens.

Vertical health programmesVertical programmes of health are standalone disease-specific approaches, with centralised management and means such as staff, funds and transportation specifically earmarked for the diseases.Vertical programmes have been preferred by donor-driven programmes because of the centralised authority, time-bound intervention in project mode with quantitative deliverables. Newell (1988) has argued that the distinction between vertical and horizontal is a contradiction of power, whereas the horizontal responds to patients’ needs and demand, the vertical suits the requirements of the centralised state or international donor.