To discuss the ways to tackle the spread of the second wave in rural areas, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) and Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi organized a Panel Discussion onRural Realities| Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand | Practitioner’s Experience in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages on May 17, 2021.
The esteemed panelists were Dr PC Negi, Professor and head, Department of Cardiology, Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh; Renu Thakur, Secretary, Association of Rural planning and action, Askote, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand; Shankar Datt, Founder member and Treasurer, Shramyog, Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Dr Anil Jaggi, Founder, Venture, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
Dr OP Bhuraita, Chairman, State resource centre, Himachal; Prof Sas Biswas, Professor and head, Department of Forestry, Dolphin Post graduate Institute of Biomedical and natural sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Dr Jitender Kumar Mokta, Professor of Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical college and hospital, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
Misconceptions in our understanding need to be addressed. According to Manshi Asher: Himachal Pradesh’s health infrastructure is a kind of image building. There are severe regional imbalances. Roads aren’t also there in some villages till now. PHCs are ill equipped. Focus has to be on counselling as there is wide prevalent social stigma. There has been 60% rise in suicides and increase in anxiety during the pandemic as there in uncertainty regarding the future in youth population. We have to address the fear and train health-line workers.
Economy is dependent on migrant labour in Himachal, thus government needs to be more alert in its approach. People are going out for better opportunities from Himachal. Invisible group like- Tribal and LGBTQ+ needs attention. Isolation in public hospitals is also a cause of concern. Manshi concluded by asserting that learnings need to be remembered. Data needs to be collected, even labour commission doesn’t have it. Coordination with civil society groups is of substantive value.
Manshi Asher asserted that talking to people and within community is very important at this juncture. Government has to be an enabler in creating social awareness. Rural and urban areas lie at a continuum.