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 on “Rural Realities: Gujarat Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian villages“ on May 14, 2021.
The panelists for the session included Mr. Umashankar Yadav, Founder-Director at Ahmedabad International Literature Festival; Ms. Hiral Dave, Program Head at Cohesion Foundation Trust; Ms. Poonam Kathuria, Director, Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiative – SWATI; Mr. Rafi Malek, Director at Centre for Development in Ahmedabad; Dr. Deepak Acharya, Consultant at Development Support Agency, Gujarat and State Medicinal Plant Board and; Ms. Shushila Prajapati, Program Manager, ActionAid Association.
The discussion was introduced by the moderator of the panel Dr. Mansee Bal Bhargava, an entrepreneur, researcher, and educator from the Eco-Development and Research cell in Ahmedabad.
During the discussion, Ms. Sushila Prajapati gave a clear understanding of what the rural realities are and how the second wave of Covid-19 in India has spread in rural India like wildfire. At present, the Government is not giving an accurate picture of the number of cases by not reporting most. She also cited an example of the Baroda district where her organization works. It was found that RT-PCR were tests done only within a one-hour slot in the entire day because of lack of resources. According to a regional newspaper in Gujarat, 1.23 lakh death certificates were issued by the government of Gujarat in the last 71 days.
Ms. Prajapati suggests the following steps:
- First, the government needs to make the improvement of health infrastructure in rural areas a key priority.
- Secondly, the government also needs to increase its budget allocation for health.
- Thirdly, it is very important to make vaccination free of cost. The government should work with NGOs to reach the grassroots levels and tackle the impact of Covid in these areas.