As Odisha is mounting its fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic , women are holding several key positions and leading from the front. Many faceless women, including nurses and members of women self-help groups, are also contributing to the effort.
Three prominent health institutions where COVID-19 testing is being carried out are headed by women scientists and doctors. While Sanghamitra Pati is heading the Regional Medical Research Centre, Bhubaneswar as Director, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar and SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack are led by Gitanjali Batmanabane and Jayashree Mohanty respectively.
Odisha’s COVID-19 core team has been seeking valuable suggestions from these women leaders in chalking out strategy against the pandemic. From expanding testing facilities to the setting up of COVID hospitals and isolation centres, these women have been part of the fight.
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Senior bureaucrat Shalini Pandit has been an important member of the core team coordinating health response with regard to surveillance, sample collection and testing in the State. She is the Mission Director of National Health Mission, under the State government’s Health & Family Welfare Department.
As Managing Director of the Odisha State Medical Corporation Ltd., Yamini Sarangi, an IAS officer, is responsible for procurement of drugs, sanitisers, equipment and protective gear for healthcare personnel in the State.
The issue of migrant labourers has assumed a critical proportion in the health crisis. As the Secretary of Labour Department, Anu Garg has been coordinating with her counterparts in other States for the safety of Odia migrant labourers.
While the women leaders are making their presence felt in the key decision-making bodies, thousands of women foot-soldiers have been supporting different sectors, including health care.
SHGs chip in
When the COVID-19 alert was issued and an acute shortage of masks was felt, the women SHGs came forward to manufacture and supply cotton masks without losing any time. More than 600 SHGs have made 15 lakh cotton masks so far.
Soon after the lockdown was enforced to contain the spread of coronavirus, members of the women SHGs volunteered to feed the homeless and destitute. More than 7000 SHGs are engaged in this task at present. The efforts of the women SHGs are being coordinated by Sujata R. Karthikeyan, Director of Mission Shakti.
The entire health service mechanism is being supported by hundreds of nurses. While nurses are directly handling the patients, thousands of auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) and Anganwadi and ASHA workers are going house to house to check the health of the people.