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A Hisar-Based NGO Is Protecting COVID-19 Frontline Health Workers In Rural India

With an aim to support and protect healthcare warriors who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in rural India, a Hisar based NGO Tayal Foundation is providing them with personal protective equipment kits

A Hisar-Based NGO Is Protecting COVID-19 Frontline Health Workers In Rural India
  • ‘Rakshak ki Raksha’ aims to protect COVID-19 frontline workers in villages
  • More than 10,000 ‘Raksha’ kits have been distributed so far
  • Each ‘Raksha’ kit has a handsanitiser, facemask, gloves, faceshield, soap

New Delhi: According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), rural healthcare workers such as ANM (Auxiliary Nurse Midwives), ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist), multipurpose healthcare workers, and Anganwadi staff are playing a significant role in containing local transmission of the COVID-19. This is because these frontline workers are visiting each household in rural areas, conducting surveys to find patients, conducting regular immunisation and providing the required guidance and encouragement to adopt improved health-related behaviours among people. They are doing all this while keeping their vulnerability to coronavirus aside. With an aim to support and protect these frontline healthcare warriors, Tayal Foundation, a non-governmental organisation in Hisar, Haryana that focuses on uplifting communities through social impact projects, has been running ‘Rakshak ki Raksha’ campaign and is providing them personal protective equipment kits free of cost.

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While talking with NDTV about the initiative, the 26-year-old Shivang Tayal who is leading the campaign said,

After working for a few years in the US, I came back to India in March and soon after that the impact of pandemic was increasing and Hisar was also hit by it. Then the lockdown was imposed. That was the time, we thought, how can we contribute our bit towards containing the pandemic. I strongly believe that the choices we make during the time of crisis define who we are. My family is into the textile business and thus we decided that we will use the resources we have to provide support to the frontline healthcare staff deployed in rural areas. We chose to help them because they are continuously on the field doing surveillance work, raising awareness and so even their vulnerability to the virus is high as their job comprises meeting many people daily. For a strong public health system, protecting the healthcare staff is of extreme importance.

He further added that the initiative has been organised in collaboration with the Hisar Chapters of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Protective Kits Distributed To More Than 10,000 Healthcare Workers So Far In More Than 900 Villages

‘Rakshak ki Raksha’ campaign is currently running in five districts of Haryana – Hisar, Palwal, Gurugram, Fatehabad, and Jind, and New Delhi. Till now more than 10,000 healthcare warriors have been provided with the protective kit called ‘Raksha Kit’ in over 900 villages in these districts.

Raksha Kits have been designed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Hisar district and include face shields, goggles, hand sanitisers, SS (Supera Shield)-96 and SITRA (South India Textile Research Association)-certified triple layer cloth masks, soaps, and gloves.

According to Mr. Tayal, about 80-82 per cent of the frontline health workers impacted by the campaign are women. He added,

These women, on the one hand, run rural India’s childcare system and, on the other hand, were working hard in COVID-19 containment efforts.

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Apart from ANM, ASHAs, and Anganwadi workers, the Raksha kits have also been provided to ambulance drivers, sanitation workers, and ward attendants in civil hospitals.

To understand the exact need at the ground level and help the frontline healthcare workers effectively, Mr. Tayal interacted with the field workers leading the containment efforts, the district level officials and the state government officials. He said,

I was able to get synchronised with all three levels to identify the resource gaps in each district. The authorities at each level confirmed, which districts were under-served and which frontline healthcare workers were in need of resources and PPEs.

Role Played By Rural Healthcare Workers In Containing COVID-19 Pandemic

According to Fatehri Devi, ASHA in Rakhisapur village in Hisar, currently, she along with her colleagues are on two duties: conducting weekly immunisation camps and surveying each household to identify COVID-19 patients, contact tracing and quarantining. She said,

Each ASHA visits at least 30 households every day and asks for the symptoms of each family member, take their temperature and provide information regarding COVID-19. We have done four such surveillance rounds till now. When there is a confirmed case, we also go to that area, trace immediate contacts of the patient, collect their samples and quarantine them.

She further added that on arriving at a house, first, they ask each family member to wash hands and either wear a mask or cover their mouths and noses with a clean cloth. She said,

Saftey- mine, as well as the household I visit, is very important. While I use the ‘Raksha Kit’ provided by ‘Rakshak Ki Raksha’ campaign to protect myself, I make sure that the household I visit knows how they can keep themselves safe too.

Fatehri Devi said that as of now the routine child care services like measuring their weight, monitoring their growth, are not happening in the villages but they will resume it soon. She highlighted that they are, however, providing support and medicines to pregnant women.

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ANM Santosh Devi from Hisar shared that her responsibility in containing COVID-19 majorly includes visiting about 20 houses daily to search clinically suspected cases, identify contacts of confirmed and suspected cases, monitor contacts daily and inform medical officers about suspect cases and their contacts. She said,

Along with creating awareness among the community and doing our part in the identification and home quarantining, we are also trying to be available for and provide support to the pregnant women and new mothers in the village. The Anganwadi workers are providing nutritional kits to children at their houses and even primary school teachers are on duty providing mid-day meals to enrolled students at their houses. We are trying that basic health and nutrition services continue without hurdles but this disease has certainly brought a lot of inconvenience and fear among all of us.

Manoj, a Multipurpose healthcare worker in Palwal district who counsels individuals to take precautions and avoid contact with those who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 said,

For us, each person we examine is a suspected case of COVID-19 and so for us wearing a face shield, mask and sanitising hand after interacting with people is crucial for our protection. While we did receive some masks and PPEs from the state department of health earlier, they were not enough. Initiatives like ‘Rakshak ki Raksha’ are filling this gap.

Also Read: COVID-19 May Never Go Away Even With A Vaccine: Report

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