To discuss the ways to tackle the spread of the second wave in rural areas, and stressed Medical Facilities 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 panellists 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, UK; Shankar Datt, Founder member and Treasurer, Shramyog, Dehradun, UK; Dr Anil Jaggi, Founder, Venture, Dehradun, UK.
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; Dr Jitender Kumar Mokta, Professor of Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical college and hospital, Shimla, Himachal.
Policy Advocacy and Research
Renu Thakur focused started her speech by highlighting that people were scared in the first wave. There was considerable focus on migrants, quarantine centres, livelihood problems, packages and schemes in the first wave and lockdown was really strict. Ration is a huge problem but community kitchens support has been tremendous.
According to Renu Thakur, there are many gaps in the policy making of India. Second wave’s focal point has been on curfew, sampling and vaccination. We also need to keep in mind that information dissemination and reaching out to people effectively is important to build trust in the people as people are scared of testing in rural areas. There are very few COVID centers.
There needs to be proper information about vaccine numbers as people come from far away areas, there is huge mismanagement. Infection rate is alarming in hilly areas.
According to Renu Thakur, COVID-19 is a medical disaster as there is no infrastructure and medicines available. Policy advocacy and research is the need of the hour. We need to motivate people to get vaccinated as people believe in rumors quite easily in rural areas. Accessibility in hilly areas is a major issue.
Digital illiteracy is a huge hurdle as registrations of vaccine are held online, leaving people without smart phones in despair. No remuneration to panchayat heads has been given. Quarantine centers aren’t equipped. Linking people to major areas is important.
People coming with patients are also at the risk of catching the virus, association of rural planning and action has been providing packed food to the family members who accompany patients. ASHA workers have to be equipped. Logistics is the major issue which needs to be catered.