Decentralised COVID-19 management spurs innovative measures in Kerala

Volunteers pack food for COVID-19 patients at a community kitchen during COVID-induced lockdown, in Kozhikode, Kerala on May 10, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

With Kerala decentralising its COVID-19 management strategy, enterprising local bodies have gone beyond predetermined guidelines to set innovative examples to help contain the coronavirus spread.

While many Panchayats have launched help desks and war rooms to keep track of bed occupancy and oxygen availability, some have brought private entities together for the benefit of the local populace.

In Kozhikode’s densely-populated Azhiyoor Gram Panchayat, the authorities have collaborated with medical stores to deliver medicines to residents’ doorsteps. Besides bringing succour to the indisposed, the initiative also prevented the public from coming out in large numbers for medicines.

Bordering Mahe, the Panchayat has a population density of around 3,580 people per sq. km., much higher that the State average of 859 people per sq. km. Battling a worrying spread of the coronavirus of late, the COVID-19 test positivity rate there stood at 34%. Several migrant labourers involved in the Mahe bypass construction also reside in the area.

“Notwithstanding the lockdown, several people have been venturing outdoors for medicines. This prompted us to rope in all of the 12 medical stores here to supply medicines at discounts ranging from 10-20%. Now, there are not many people leaving their homes,” says Panchayat Secretary T. Shahul Hameed.

‘COVEHICLE’, launched by Karadka block Panchayat in Kasaragod, has enabled the residents of seven high-range Gram Panchayats to utilise the services of taxis to transport COVID-19 patients, their contacts and other patients to hospitals free-of-cost or at subsidised rates. Panchayat President Sigi Mathew said the existing fleet of 32 vehicles have undertaken nearly 6,000 trips within five days.

Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) Director-General Joy Elamon pointed out that local bodies have seized the opportunity to play major roles in COVID-19 management by breaking the confines of conventional local governance. Their authority over ‘transferred institutions’ such as schools and Primary Health Centres is bound to stand them in good stead.

KILA has also been at the forefront of imparting Panchayat leaders with the technical knowledge of handling the evolving scenario. In addition to distributing checklists, the institution has organised training on various facets of COVID-19 management, Dr. Elamon said.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 3:25:07 PM |

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