In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities and the alarming conditions including oxygen shortage, lack of beds and vaccines, etc 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 | Maharashtra Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 13, 2021.
The IMPRI team informed the discussion by locating for the event participants the situation of COVID 19 in India and Maharashtra. The team also provided an insight into the geography and Socio economic conditions of the state. The rationale was to provide the participants with an overview of the state of Maharashtra.
Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, TATA Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai was the moderator of the webinar and she highlighted that rural areas are having more cases and Maharashtra is topping the charts. Inadequate testing facilities, Primary health centres (PHCs) are medically ill-equipped, Ayushmaan Bharat scheme has become ineffective as there are fewer oxygen beds available. Public health care is the need of the hour.
People are facing a financial crisis and selling their lands off to avail health services. Oxygen shortage is causing critically ill patients to die on roads. SHGs, ASHAs, Anganwadi stories of valour can be heard all across India for their determination towards work. People to people solidarity can go a long way in tackling this deadly virus. Teachers and police officers are also playing a vital role.
Women are more vulnerable to sexual violence. The term COVID widows is used in Maharashtra, women don’t have land in their names and no ration cards which add to the problems. Education is a major casualty as Online education is not possible in rural areas. COVID-19 is a multi-pronged Issue as socio-economic issues, food security, Employment and health emergency are at the core of the issue.
Prof Vibhuti concluded by asserting that vaccination infrastructure, lack of beds and reverse migration are the major issues. Civil society organizations should carry a communication drive and create awareness at the rural level. Robust data is needed to come with an action plan. Multi-pronged strategy can go a long way!