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Monday, November 29, 2021

Mumbai: Pujaris, hakims to be roped in to push vaccination in rural areas

In the cities, the department is taking the help of celebrities and local leaders to create awareness.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
Updated: October 25, 2021 6:50:24 am
Officials of district health office claim that as the pandemic curve has flattened, people mostly from rural areas are avoiding getting fully vaccinated. (Representative image)

In an effort to get maximum number of people vaccinated, the public health department has decided to take the help of pujaris and hakims (who practice traditional medicine) to create awareness among villagers on the need to get fully immunised in the state’s hinterlands.

In the cities, the department is taking the help of celebrities and local leaders to create awareness.

Maharashtra has already vaccinated over 9.3 crore people—second highest in the country after Uttar Pradesh. However, nearly 6.5 crore people are yet to get the second dose. So, recently officers from the public health department held a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to discuss innovative ways to sensitise people about the mass immunization programme.

“A large portion of the population in rural Maharashtra are avoiding the second dose. We are tracking all the beneficiaries and would counsel them,” said Dr Archana Patil, director of health service. “Along with that, we will request local leaders to urge people to get vaccinated,” she added.

Officials of district health office claim that as the pandemic curve has flattened, people mostly from rural areas are avoiding getting fully vaccinated.

So, district health officials are requesting traditional medical practitioners like hakims and also pujaris to sensitise local people in getting fully immunised.

Gadchiroli district health officer Dr Shashikant Shambharkar said, “Pujaris and hakims hold important and respectable positions in rural districts. People listen to them. So we are trying to mobilize them to sensitise the villagers. We are reaching out to remote places like Mardakuhi, Koyanwarshi and Korkuti.”

This apart, the district officers are organising plays on roads by roping in local artists.

While in cities, the civic health officers are trying to take help from celebrities to raise awareness, especially in slums. For instance, on Sunday, Dr Gautam Bhansali, incharge of Covid beds in private hospitals, along with BMC organised a vaccine awareness camp in Dharavi where actor Sonu Sood was invited. Nearly 36 school students were also invited who encouraged adults to get the jab.

“Mumbai is a city of cinema and the celebrities have a strong influence on people. So we invited Sonu Sood to assure and encourage people. And it received quite a good response,” said Dr Bhansali.

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