APRIL 2021 – COVID 19 – Second Wave

The COVID-19 pandemic had led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people were at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people increased.

Informal economy workers were particularly vulnerable because the majority lack social protection and access to quality health care and have lost access to productive assets.

Millions of agricultural workers – waged and self-employed – while feeding the world, regularly face high levels of working poverty, malnutrition and poor health, and suffered from a lack of safety and labour protection as well as other types of abuse. With low and irregular incomes and a lack of social support, many of them are spurred to continue working, often in unsafe conditions, thus exposing themselves and their families to additional risks.

Further, when experiencing income losses, they may resort to negative coping strategies, such as distress sale of assets, predatory loans or child labour. Migrant agricultural workers were particularly vulnerable, because they faced risks in their transport, working and living conditions and struggle to access support measures put in place by governments.

Exponential surge in infections from April 2021 onward culminated in the second wave of the pandemic. The second wave placed a major strain on the healthcare system, including shortage of equipment, liquid medical oxygen. At Hingalganj, the community had barely recovered from the devastating aftermath of super cyclone Amphan in May 2020.

The fragile healthcare system was desperate for support to continue serving the remote community. The need of the hour was to spread awareness about the disease, preventive measures, social distancing norms, providing health-kits.

MAY 2021 – Swapnopuron once again rose to the occasion and created a Rapid Response Team (RRT). A control room was set up and a helpline activated. This RRT provided the support needed to spread awareness in the community, distribute equipment, kits, ration etc.

The ASHA* Workers & ANM ** Worker who were combating with the situation at the ground level were provided with much needed equipment like thermal gun, oximeter, PPE kits, surgical masks, sanitiser and liquid hand wash, disposable gloves. Preventive Hygiene Kit comprising of a thermometer, surgical mask was also distributed.

Training on how to use thermal guns, pulse oximeters was also imparted.

Without the means to earn an income during lockdowns, many are unable to feed themselves and their families. For most, no income means no food, or, at best, less food and less nutritious food. To combat malnutrition and hunger, affected families at Katakhali, Hingalganj were provided with ration kits containing rice, pulses, oil, salt etc.

*(Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) a community health worker employed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as a part of India’s National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

** Auxiliary nurse midwife, village level female health worker in . ANM-related work includes maternal and child health along with family planning services, health and nutrition education, environmental sanitation, immunisation for the control of communicable diseases, treatment of minor injuries, and first aid in emergencies and disasters.