Debunking myths and challenging perception a team of motivated individuals came together to guide people to follow the right COVID protocols and take up vaccination as a mandatory protective cover. After few of the healthcare officers conducting the vaccination program tested positive, fear spread among the community, leading to an increased hesitancy to get vaccinated. This issue came to the notice of Thayappa- community organizer with CRY partner Shruthi Samskruti Samsthe, through the Village Covid task force committee.
Thayappa along with gram panchayat PDO, police staff and Anganawadi workers visited every house in the village and informed them about the importance of vaccine and that every safety protocol would be maintained to ensure everyone’s safety. After a prolonged awareness drive more than 200 people got vaccinated. The turnaround was almost five times than the first vaccination drive.
To create a safer world for the underprivileged children and their support system, Child Rights and You (CRY) has initiated a ‘COVID Support Group’ which aims to manage COVID in an effective and decentralized manner in the rural areas. The second wave of COVID has emphasized the importance of timely medical intervention. This along with debunking any myths related to vaccine have been some of the key areas that this initiative attempts to address. In Karnataka around 43 such unique support group has been formed across 4 districts (Raichur, Kalaburgi, Belagavi, Kolar) at a Panchayart/village level, covering 126 villages with a population of around 2 lakhs people.
This group is comprised of 6-8 young people, with a must have criterion of smart phone. A representative from the adolescent girl’s collective will also be part of this group. The assemblage of people will work closely with Anganawadi workers, ASHA workers, nurses, Doctors, PDO, teachers, Village panchayats and Gram panchayat members, along with project partners of CRY to fight COVID in an effective and a sustainable manner.
The core purpose and intent of setting up of the support group is to keep children united, safe, and mitigate the vulnerabilities emanating from this pandemic. The team will not only be the ‘go-to’ entity at the village – but it will facilitate and try and ensure updated and authentic covid information is shared within the village. Overall 282 Covid support Groups have been formed with 1829 member present it and around 302 mass awareness activity has been facilitated by the group in the intervention areas of CRY in south India.
“This pandemic has a direct and indirect effect on children. Apart from the fact that children are ‘directly’ susceptible to the disease and carry a medical risk to themselves and others – they are also indirect victims (or potential victims) of economic exploitation, early marriage, trafficking, physical & sexual abuse, emotional and mental trauma. If we can ensure that the supporting system of children along with them are protected from adverse health and financial stress, then we can go a long way in protecting the cause of children.” said John Roberts, General Manager, Development Support, CRY (South).
The consortium will also help villagers to get timely medical support or isolation as deemed by the healthcare professionals. From encouraging vaccination to create a vigilante to ensure that medical intervention and proper COVID protocols are time ensued to the villagers, constituted the core aim of the group. Based on information and action, this task force comes to ply to generate a quick, safe, genuine, credible and relevant response to the pandemic in the interior parts of the state.
“We have seen many people being affected by the Covid and several deaths in the second wave in Kolar District. The Covid Support Group formed has been instrumental in raising awareness on Covid, initiating vaccination in the villages. They closely monitored children, pregnant and feeding mothers. Covid Support Group gave ownership to the community to “take action” towards Covid prevention and vaccination with the support of community members as volunteers and closely supporting ASHA worker / ANM and the local PHC. It mainly facilitated in fighting fears, anxiety, and mental stress about the pandemic. The major focus now is ensuring 100% vaccination in the villages in close collaboration with Health Department”, said Prabhavathi, CRY Project, Kolar District.
As the threat of third wave looms large, awareness and proactive measures will go a long way in bringing protection to people. This step is one building block towards a safer surrounding offering a more proactive solution to fight the pandemic.