To discuss the pertinent topic of the time, measures to tackle the spread of the second wave in rural areas and the health condition of the poor following the Pandemic, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi and Department of Social Work, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli organized a Panel Discussion with eminent panelists on “Rural Realities | Tamil Nadu Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave”on May 22, 2021.
Dr. K Kolandaswamy, former Director, Public Health, Government of Tamil Nadu remarked that the peripheral institutions need to be strengthened and be prepared for the next wave. The incompetent testing facility is one of the many challenges in rural areas. Upgradation of Taluk and non-Taluk hospital with oxygen and more testing facility can prepare us for the third wave.
According to him, the availability of vaccines is another major crisis facing the state, but he be. The government of Tamil Nadu has called for a global tender for 5 crore vaccines, implying that 2.5 crore people can be vaccinated. Once vaccines arrive, with the help of NGOs, SHGs, and the existing team, the state can very well implement the vaccination drive.
He asserted that the state has the ability and capacity to carry out a massive vaccination drive as was evident in the 2017 MR campaign through which 1.5 crore children below 15 were vaccinated against measles and rubella. Optimistically he noted that the very small proportion of people who exhibit vaccination hesitance is not a serious challenge as he believed that when a majority gets vaccinated, they would fall in line. So, the focus should be on availability.
He further added that, like the government has expanded its capacity, corporate and private medical hospitals which have immense resources should willingly expand their capacity too. He believed that while industrialists in the name of CSR are voluntarily helping, those in the private health care industry have not extended their help sufficiently, with a few exceptions.
Dr. K Kolandaswamy recommended that volunteers who have recovered, are fully immunized, or who recovered and did not need serious medical attention should be brought in preparation for the third wave.