The ‘Inside Districts’ series launched in April 2020 is a one-of-its-kind attempt to capture the experiences of district and Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries, beneficiaries, and frontline workers, on their challenges and best practices.
As the second wave hits India in 2021, and given the unprecedented situation, we will also be capturing the experiences of staff from the 5 states in which we have a permanent presence. These are Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. We will be publishing insights from NGO efforts as well.
This interview was conducted with Anil Baber who is a Senior PAISA Associate at the Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research. He lives in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra.
Q: Have you been vaccinated in the 18+ category? If yes, when, where, and what was the procedure like?
Anil: I have been vaccinated in the 18+ category. The vaccine was administered on 4 May 2021 in the Sub District Hospital (SDH) of the Block (Osmanabad district).
On 28th April, I registered myself on the COWIN portal but I didn’t get an appointment that day. I booked my appointment on 1 May for the nearest centre (which was in my Block). As soon as I booked the appointment, I got a text message on the phone with the details of the vaccination like date, time, and address of the centre.
I reached the designated centre according to my time slot. The officials at the centre had names of people listed and were calling them out one by one. People were following social distancing.
At least 50 people may have been vaccinated in one slot. There were four slots that day.
Q: Have you been told of arrangements made by the local administration for people who are very sick?
Anil: Yes, the Panchayat Secretary, ASHAs, and chairpersons of Gram Panchayat committees are involved in disseminating the information. We have been informed about COVID centres and how to reach there. People with mild symptoms are being told about measures that they have to follow at home. ASHA and Anganwadi Workers are going door-to-door and giving updated government instructions to people.
Q: If there was a sick member in your family, what kind of healthcare arrangements were provided to you by the government?
Anil: When my family members were sick, they were taken to a private hospital and the entire treatment was done by the private facility only. They did not need oxygen though. Since we didn’t go to a government hospital, we didn’t get much help from the government.
Q: Do you know of other instances where COVID-19 patients were able to access institutional healthcare and/or oxygen support?
Anil: We had two villagers who were COVID-19 positive. They complained of worsening symptoms, but did not need medical oxygen. They have come back from the Sub District Hospital, and are under home quarantine right now. They are doing better.
The number of COVID-19 patients appear to be increasing in our district rapidly though. Private and government hospitals are completely occupied; it is difficult to find a bed right now.
Q: How are new cases being detected? What steps are Frontline Workers (ASHAs, Anganwadi Workers, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives) and the local administration taking once cases are found?
Anil: Under the ‘My Family, My Responsibility’ campaign, surveys are being conducted and temperature and oxygen levels of people are being checked. If someone has a fever or some other COVID-19 related symptom in the village, they are being tested. If the report comes out to be positive, then their entire family is tested. ASHAs and ANMs are informed about the result and then the information is also given to the Primary Health Centre (PHC).
COVID-19 positive patients are admitted to the COVID centres in the Block. In my Block, along with the government hospital, some schools have also been converted into COVID centres.
There are three kinds of wards in the Block. One is for patients who have COVID-19 but do not show symptoms. The second is for patients who need oxygen support, and the third is for patients who are on ventilators.
After the vaccine is administered, and if any person has any major side effects, then they are sent to the PHC by the ASHA worker only. ANMs are also informed.
ASHAs are also doing work related to Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Days, and immunisation. Routine immunisation is happening.
Q: Are Anganwadi centres functional in your village? What services are they providing?
Anil: Anganwadi Centres are closed due to the pandemic. They open only for distributing Take Home Ration (THR). Five beneficiaries are called at one time to collect the THR. Anganwadi centres are also opened for routine immunisation.
Children who are 3 to 6 years of age are only being called for these immunisations, but not for other activities such as preschool education. Their parents are being given ration for their nutrition. Nutritional information is also being updated online.
More experiences can be found on the dedicated Inside Districts platform.