Updated: May 28, 2021 8:49:47 pm
Last year, when the Covid-19 crisis started gripping the country, the remote tribal parts of north Maharashtra were relatively less affected. The disease being new, misinformation and fear were rife, so was the lack of proper administrative set-up to address the issue.
Prathibha Shinde of the Loksangharsha Morcha, a grassroots-level advocacy group, pointed to a certain incident that had acted as the trigger for them to start a Covid care centre in Jalgaon.
“An 82-year-old patient was found dead inside a locked toilet block of a government-run Covid care centre. The incident caused a major uproar. We decided to pitch in with our people to help society and government to fight the pandemic,” she said.
Since then, the centre, run by the Morcha out a government hostel building, has cured more than 1,700 patients, mostly from the weaker sections of society.
Behind this decision also is the deep ideological link that the Morcha shares with the works of social reformers like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj and Dr Babasaheb Ambekdar.
Shinde said during the plague crisis in Pune, both Mahatama Phule and his wife, Savitribai, had thrown themselves to help people with Savitribai herself contracting the disease and dying of it.
“We are the proud followers of Phule, Sahu and Ambedkar. Our inspiration comes from their act. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj would also have gone on field to help others. This was the main inspiration for us to start the centre,” she added.
The 120-bed centre started last September. Manned by two doctors, nine nurses, eight ward boys, four mausis and 11 conservatory staff, the centre depended entirely on the philanthropic donation for its day-to-day activities.
“We have never been short of funds. People are ready to open their purse if they see the right intention and transparency in action,” she affirmed. The centre, which admits asymptomatic or mild cases of Covid-19, has 10 beds with oxygen facility.
Patients admitted are provided with four meals a day, which includes a compulsory fruit to boost immunity. All medicines are provided free of cost. During the first wave, the centre had run for two months, since September, and had treated 823 patients.
This year, the centre resumed in March and till date, has seen 930 patients being treated.
“In case patients turn serious, we shift them to the government medical college in Jalgaon,” she said. Yoga aerobics and other form of entertainment are also kept to keep the patients healthy. After discharge, the patients are given medicines for seven days.
“They get a call from the centre 7 and 14 days after discharge to enquire about their health,” she added.
Most of the patients are drawn from rural Jalgaon, Dhule and Nandurbar districts. Patients, Shinde said, are drawn from all classes and creeds. This time, around 20 percent of the patients were from the tribal communities. “During the first wave, there was hardly any spread among the tribals.”
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