Primary care, the cornerstone of any healthcare system, plays a crucial role during any crisis. During this COVID-19 pandemic, their role has been significant, especially when the services have been aimed at under-served communities.
The rural poor, being deprived of some of the most basic amenities and facilities, have been vulnerable to the infection. While vaccinations are being carried out across the country, its reach has been slow within the highly populated remote rural areas. All our rural centres are in such areas of West Bengal. Most of these regions don’t have hospitals nearby for any patient with a severe case of COVID. Since our efforts have always been focused on maximizing the impact, we have been serving over 40 villages through each of our units. Thus, considering our reach of care, as well as the continuing risk of a 3rd wave, we have initiated vaccination drives for our rural communities. Villagers who are unvaccinated are being administered with the life-saving inoculation to keep them safe from the severe effects of the virus.
Despite the continuous challenges, the determination of socially conscious organisations has been firm—a trait that has helped the underprivileged during the peak of the pandemic and are now helping us secure vaccine vials for the communities. The support we have received with the vials have helped us administer over 1000 first doses and we are in the process of inoculating more people.
The attitude of these rural communities’ towards vaccinations has been delightfully surprising. During the beginning of the pandemic, they either had a strong (and often irrational) fear of the infection or complete disregard for the safety measures and preventions. By now, however, most have a far better understanding of COVID and there is little to no vaccine hesitancy among them. Most are eager to receive the vaccine.
At present, we are looking to secure more vials and are seeking funding for the expenses we incur to carry out the drive.
For over a decade we have been serving the rural poor with a focus on bringing improvement to their health and even now, during this unprecedented and unpredictable outbreak, our efforts have been aimed at their welfare. To know that our work has been countering the pandemic is gratifying but we have to continue our work to protect the communities.