In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities and COVID-19 Pandemic around the country, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities | Telangana & Andhra Pradesh | Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 14, 2021, as the second wave of coronavirus pandemic is engulfing the length and breadth of our country, India, and hitting the heartland of our country which is the rural areas.
Dr. Donthi Narasimha Reddy, Independent Consultant, Policy Expert, and SDG Campaigner talking about pandemic says that people are dealing with perceptions more than actual statistics and there is a need for much more fragmentation to understand the reality.
Presenting ground realities of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Dr. Donthi highlighted that rural health infrastructure has been neglected in the last two decades and there is more emphasis on privatization within public hospitals with diagnostic centers, sanitation services, etc being privatized within public hospitals.
Talking about the history of diseases in Andhra Pradesh he stated that it has past infectious diseases like viral fevers, Japanese encephalitis, Chandipura Virus, Anthrax, HIV, Chikungunya, and Malaria. He further pointed following factors of poor vector management, mainstream neglect, and Andhra Pradesh incapability of responding to viral fevers as a complete chain and the vulnerability factor of malnutrition in rural areas as a major cause of the spread of infectious diseases in states since past.
Throwing light on the impact of COVID-19 on the livelihood of people he said that pandemic has impacted badly the livelihood of people doing small jobs due to lockdowns. Various handloom weavers in both states were affected severely.
Various risk factors driving deaths and disability in Andhra Pradesh are malnutrition, Dietary risks, High blood pressure, and air pollution, WASH, occupational risks, etc with malnutrition topping the chart.
Highlighting the number of COVID cases in Telangana he says that the number of cases in urban areas is much more than in rural areas wherein Andhra Pradesh there is an equal amount of surge in cases both in rural and urban areas.
Finally, Dr. Donthi highlighted various observations. These are:
- The Conception that infectious diseases are for the poor, rural, and tribals.
- The Annual feature of viral fevers in rural areas, especially tribal lands
- Privatization-public investments being low.
- Access to Nutritious food.
- COVID response – individuals, families, society, and government.
- Fragmented Institutional chain.