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How to protect rural areas from second wave of coronavirus

by Vijay Garg
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By: Vijay Garg

The guidelines issued by the central government to prevent the spread of corona infection in villages are not enough.  He will have to see whether the state governments and local administrations are working in accordance with these guidelines.  States need to do more urgently to prevent corona infection in resource-poor rural areas.  Not only is the health infrastructure in the villages weak but there is also a shortage of trained health workers.  In the last one year, these employees should have been trained to deal with corona, but this does not seem to have happened and so the Union Ministry of Health had to ask the community health center officials to train them for rapid antigen testing.  .  This has to be done with immediate effect on a war footing as time is short.  Corona infection has not only reached the villages but is also wreaking havoc.  There are some rural areas of the country where the impact of the infection is more visible than in the cities.  It is true that the central government is constantly pushing for door-to-door testing in high-risk areas but the problem is that the required testing kits are not available.  At least for now, the shortage of testing kits should be addressed on a priority basis.  It is a difficult task but it has to be done because it can save the villages from the wrath of Corona.  It is also important for the state governments to work hard to empower the underprivileged and the deficient health infrastructure.  In most rural areas, the primary health centers and community health centers are in poor condition.  All such centers are run in rented buildings and the employees working in them are also hired on contract basis.  The state governments cannot blame anyone but themselves for this situation.  They will know that health is a matter of their jurisdiction.  This needs a lot of attention now.  The states also have to be proactive because even after the arrival of vaccines, the required number of vaccines are not being given in rural areas.  This is due to reluctance to get vaccinated due to ignorance, superstition and rumors.  It would be better for the state governments to launch a renewed awareness campaign on immunization in the villages and to eradicate anti-vaccination elements.
We need to mobilize our entire population, all influential people – politicians, actors, athletes, admirable medical professionals and administrators – to launch a massive propaganda campaign.  Every Indian language TV channel should take these messages over and over again during prime time to get the message home.  Public education should be the responsibility of district administrations, gram panchayats, health care workers, civil society leaders, teachers, NGOs and charitable organizations.  Mobile phones, which have wide reach in rural India, can be used to spread messages and short educational video clips about covid-prevention strategies in regional languages.  This step will have a big impact
The rural masses need solid and decentralization of appropriate and efficient immunizations by Gram Panchayats. They should actively involve all stakeholders – health care workers, civil society leaders, industry, teachers, voluntary and charitable organizations –  Immunization camps should be set up in every village as soon as possible.  While the governments (state and central) are tasked with supplying vaccines for this huge undertaking, every village panchayat must ensure that the immunization program runs smoothly without wasting any time.
Hard days lie ahead but only if we act quickly and on a war footing can we reduce the impact of a major medical disaster in rural areas.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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