While India’s COVID-19 outbreak has stabilized in parts of the country, infections have continued to spread in rural areas where public health services are scarce and already overstretched. Home to nearly two-thirds of Indians, rural areas are being gravely affected by COVID-19 for the first time.
CMC’s community outreach work has continued throughout the second wave of COVID-19, helping to provide essential services while trying to prevent the spread of the disease. Dr. Anuradha Rose from the Department of Community Health shared an update on their work in the Jawadhi Hills tribal area.
During the first wave, there were less than 50 covid-positive patients in Jawadhi, all of whom were migrant laborers returning from major cities. CMC’s main activities focused on non-covid mortality and morbidity, especially antenatal care. However, they are now seeing many more patients in Jawadhi, mostly in and around Jammunmarathur, the largest town which is also the economic hub.
CMC is working with the Government of India and NGOs, like Don Bosco Tribal Development Society, to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 in these areas. CMC’s efforts during the second wave of the pandemic are briefly described below:
- Education and motivation to vaccinate. Vaccine acceptance is very low in the tribal region. Many people have heard of someone in some other village who died after vaccination and are unwilling to get vaccinated or get their family members vaccinated. A team from the Community Health Department is visiting villages in the evenings to talk to people, address their fears, clarify doubts, and encourage vaccination. If we can motivate at least 10 people in the village, we inform the Block Medical Officer and he will visit the village the following day to vaccinate those individuals. Since we are in the middle of a lockdown, we received permission from the relevant authorities, such as the police, for our work. We are also motivating the people who come to the mobile clinic and follow the same strategy.
- Establishing an isolation center: During our health education sessions, the people told us how difficult the isolation and quarantine advice given is to follow, as their houses usually consist of one room, with 3 to 6 family members. At the request of the panchayat president, we helped them write a petition to the district collector for an isolation center. This request has been expressed by many people to the health authorities also, and a center is to open in Perungatur, about 5km from the Public Health Center for this purpose. We are discussing ways in which CMC can help in this center with the block medical officer.
- Food provisions: Like last year, the lockdown has affected many of the poorest people. We are supplying dry rations to these families, and to the families where one member is positive and isolated.
- Ongoing health care: We have taken on a significantly large group of patients with non-covid morbidity at the mobile clinic and in Veerapanoor. This is also after discussion with the government medical officer.