Skip to main content

Learn lessons from Kerala how they dealt with covid crisis: Himachal civil society

By Our Representative 
As the country enter the phase two of the lockdown imposed as a move to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of close to 50 civil society groups, community organisations, activists and concerned citizens of Himachal Pradesh have issued a public appeal in order to address the steps that need to be taken, so that the state is able to respond to this public health crisis and the impacts of the lockdown in a just and effective manner. 
The signatories from various parts of the state said in the statement, "We express our gratitude towards those who have worked day in and day out in the last three weeks to ensure the safety and health of the citizens and we understand the seriousness of this crisis".
The statement says that while the population of Himachal Pradesh is quite low, just about 68.6 lakh, the state faces a major problem: Several lakh migrant workers work here in industrial units and orchards. At the same time, around one crore people come to the state as tourists every year to visit Manali, Shimla, Dharmashala and other places.
The state’s public health network is incapable handling such a huge inflow, it says. Several of the state’s regions, such as Kangra, Una, Sirmaur, Chamba and Solan, do not have good health facilities, while people of remote areas like Saraj, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti have a major problem in getting any medical aid during winter.
The statement highlights concerns that have arisen in the aftermath of the curfew and lock-down in Himachal Pradesh. Some of the important issues raised and suggested steps/measures to be taken include:
  • There is a need to increase the frequency of tests because the test rate in Himachal Pradesh is currently lower than our two neighbouring states, Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Uttarakhand.
  • There is a need to end myths, social stigma, hate and fear-mongering around the disease, especially against vulnerable communities. 
  • Strict and immediate legal action should be taken in cases of violence against migrant labourers, health workers and members of minorities. 
  • There is a need to adhere to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indian Concul of Medical Research (ICMR), which have advised against communal profiling while reporting about the disease. 
  • There is a need to strengthen the public health system and emergency response mechanism (safety plus testing kits/beds/personnel/ventilators etc.) and report the status of the same in media briefs on a daily basis. 
  • The government should provide information in public domain on status of the relief work and facilities extended to lower income group families, migrant and daily-wage labourers and other vulnerable communities. 
  • There is a need to fulfill fodder, seeds and other needs of farmers/ livestock-rearers, as suggested by farmer organisations. At the same time, the government must ensure that movement of pastoral communities continues unhindered and they do not face hurdles locally, even as they continue practicing physical distancing. 
  • The government must ensure access of all Central and state government relief schemes and release daily bulletins on the same. 
  • The state must involve non-governmental organisations and activists in a co-ordination, planning and lockdown exit plan at the district level. 
  • The state ensure the safety of health workers and frontline health personnel, even as ensuring availability of other health services to patients who may be in dire need of medical help. 
  • There should be a 24 hour helplines for women who may be in distress due to domestic violence and abuse or other types of harassment. 
  • The state should take steps to address the problem of those who may be stuck outside the state – allowing their return into the state after adequate testing and quarantine measures. 
  • Special measures should to be taken keeping in mind the non-accessibility of remote and inaccessible regions like Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur, where the disease may spread during winter. 
The lock-down exit strategy task force should chart out a long-term plan to put in place a robust bottom up institutional mechanism at the district, block, panchayat and ward levels, the statement says.
It adds, through these channels, quarantine and public health facilities, status of essential commodities and services, handling of coronavirus testing, condition of migrant workers, status of daily wage labourers and other vulnerable section, should be monitored during lock-down extension period. The police and vigilance departments may work in close co-ordination with these channels.
According to the statement, “This is the time when mountain communities, mostly residing in rural, remote, difficult and far-flung areas, need each other’s solidarity and support to survive the lockdown period and to deal with the disease together. Maintaining peace and harmony must be the priority and responsibility of each and every citizen of the state, especially the media and the state apparatus.”
The statement asserts, “Himachal Pradesh is a state that was until a few years ago neck to neck with Kerala in some of the social development indicators like health, education and basic infrastructure. We need to learn our lessons from the example of Kerala and how they have dealt with the COVID-19 crisis. As a small state with a low density of population and a resilient community we have many advantages that we must use at this moment.”
---
Click HERE to read full statement in Hindi and signatories

Comments

TRENDING

AMR: A gathering storm that threatens a century of progress in medicine

By Bobby Ramakant*  A strategic roundtable on “Charting a new path forward for global action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)” was organised at the 77th World Health Assembly or WHA (WHA is the apex decision-making body of the World Health Organization – WHO, which is attended by all countries that are part of the WHO – a United Nations health agency). AMR is among the top-10 global health threats “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a growing and urgent crisis which is already a leading cause of untimely deaths globally. More than 2 people die of AMR every single minute,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “AMR threatens to unwind centuries of progress in human health, animal health, and other sectors.”

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Saving farmers and consumers from GM crops and food: Philippines court shows the way

By Bharat Dogra*  At a time when there is increasing concern that powerful GM crop lobbyists backed by enormous resources of giant multinational companies may be able to bulldoze food safety and environmental concerns while pushing GM crops, a new hope has appeared in the form of a court decision from the Philippines. 

Top Punjab Maoist who failed to analyse caste question, promoted economism

By Harsh Thakor*  On June 15th we commemorated the 15th death anniversary of Harbhajan Singh Sohi or HBS, a well known Communist leader in Punjab. He expired of a heart attack in Bathinda in 2009.