To discuss the ways to tackle the spread of the second wave of the pandemic in rural areas, and stressed Medical Facilities 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| Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand | Practitioner’s Experience in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages on May 17, 2021.
The esteemed panelists were Dr PC Negi, Professor and head, Department of Cardiology, Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh; Renu Thakur, Secretary, Association of Rural planning and action, Askote, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand; Shankar Datt, Founder member and Treasurer, Shramyog, Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Dr Anil Jaggi, Founder, Venture, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
Dr OP Bhuraita, Chairman, State resource centre, Himachal; Prof Sas Biswas, Professor and head, Department of Forestry, Dolphin Post graduate Institute of Biomedical and natural sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Dr Jitender Kumar Mokta, Professor of Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical college and hospital, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
There is a manifold increase in patients, cases rising to 5,000 per day. Primary health care centres (PHCs) and Community health centres (CHCs) are less and inadequately equipped with resources in rural areas. A point of concern is that people in rural areas are ignorant about symptoms of COVID and perceive it as a normal illness.
Educating people is very important as burden of disease is increasing exponentially. No monitoring system and surveillance mechanism can add to the problems arising of COVID as according to Dr. PC Negi, many patients are admitted late to hospitals and there is no monitoring of oxygen at the home level in rural areas due to lack of oxy meters and thermometers.
Support groups and self-help groups (SHGs) at the ground level can be helpful in providing support to people during this hard time. ASHAs and Anganwadi workers role is also of great importance as they are agents of awareness in rural areas. Active surveillance is the need of the hour. Strengthening institutions is of utmost significance and role of panchayat is pivotal.
Dr PC Negi provided way forward by underlining that health has been neglected. We have to increase the GDP by investing in health infrastructure. Social determinants need to be looked upon deeply. Public health and curative medicines need to have different cadres as we need to have a preventive approach towards disease control. This situation is unprecedented and we need public support as highlighted by Shankar Datt. This is a learning experience for all of us! Health and education are very important pillars of a society to become resilient and responsive. Holistic approach needs to be adopted.