When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, a Pune based NGO Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) started assisting the Urban Local Bodies in the containment efforts of Maharashtra's twin cities, Pune and Mumbai. BJS, which was established in 1985 with an aim to work in the areas of disaster response, health and education, has been conducting mass thermal screenings of the citizens, organising testing camps and several awareness drives and running mobile dispensary to provide support to the healthcare services reeling under the impact of COVID-19.
According to Shantilal Muttha, the founder of Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS), the organisation has started 'Mission Zero' in collaboration with civic and health authorities in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. 'Mission Zero' is a rapid action plan to combat COVID-19. Under this Mission, mobile dispensary vans go around the cities to conduct a preliminary examination of patients with symptoms similar to COVID 19 like fever, cough, cold, bodyache, conjunctivitis, running nose and also provide them with medical supervision and medicines at their doorstep.
As of July 31, over 17 lakh people have been screened in the four states out of which 16.1 lakh were screened in Maharashtra, over 39,000 were screened in Karnataka, over 1.2 lakh in Tamil Nadu and more than 16,000 in Gujarat. Out of the total number of people screened so far, over 29,500 people were detected as suspected COVID-19 patients and were referred to government hospitals.
For the implementation of 'Mission Zero', BJS started running 55 mobile dispensary vans in April. The organisation has increased the number of vans to 340 by the end of July.
Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana has been conducting COVID-19 testing via a private lab in Pune and Mumbai. The organisation also started conducting rapid antigen tests that test blood samples for antibodies against coronavirus in both cities.
The organisation also introduced 'Smart Helmets' in the country that can help in expediting mass thermal screening. It procured four helmets from China and has donated two each to Pune and Mumbai civic authorities. A Smart helmet works as a portable thermal scanner and is equipped with two cameras, one camera records the video of a person and side camera which is a thermal camera records the body temperature of a person. It has the capacity to scan 200 people in one minute.
According to Sanjog S Kabre, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, 'Smart Helmets' are proving to be helpful in early detection of suspected COVID-19 cases. He said that over 30,000 people have been screened using the helmets and out of the total number of people screened, 200 were sent for swab testing and out of those 25 tested positive.
As the organisation continues to carry on its containment efforts, Mr. Muttha says that they are currently working on a plan to increase the number of mobile dispensaries and widen the outreach of 'Mission Zero' to other parts of the country as well. He said, 'Today we are going through a very critical phase. I hope that the BJS workers across the country will put their full strength and resources to help the country and humankind at this time to create a new benchmark for social-service.'