Village Ways Charitable Trust fights COVID 19 pandemic in Himalayan villages

Posted in News on Monday, April 6th, 2020

In Ramgarh block, Nainital

The ASHA workers of Dutkanedhar, were tense. They had just returned from a training at Ramgarh block. It was an emergency. It happened all of a sudden. There was some new virus their villages now needed protection from. Their Supervisor had instructed them all to disseminate awareness among the households in all their respective villages. It had to be done as soon as possible. This could limit transmission of the virus to the villages.

Soon, the Medical Officer in Charge of the Community Health Centre at the block shared with them that there was a team of women led by Geeta Gaur and Shanti Acharya, from Village Ways Charitable Trust, who were ready to join hands with the Front line Workers to successfully combat against the new Corona virus at the village level.

Village Ways Charitable Trust has been working in remote Himalayan villages since 2008, creating an army of front line workers disseminating information of preventive health care for the families, peers and the marginalised communities.

It was with this incredible background of work on preventive care that Ms Ratnamala Kapur, the Managing Trustee of Village Ways Charitable Trust, wrote to the Medical Officer in Charge of the Community Health Centre at the block, offering support to combat COVID 19 at the village level.

The offer was accepted and the front line workers of the Trust were looped in for further training on the government protocol to be followed at the village level.

The government health staff knew the Trust team well. As soon as they heard that they would be joining hands with them, they were overjoyed. The Trust Team were an active group of girls who had received training on Front Line Worker course. They had conducted a series of community level awareness activities on personal health, hygiene nutrition and menstrual hygiene. They were the Village Ways Charitable Trust -HERnetwork, active not in just her own village but across 25-30 villages. The core members of this network, under the guidance of Dr Vandana Lal (Trustee VWCT, Director, Dr Lal Path Labs)  along with a qualified staff nurse and a backend team of doctors, also ran the Tulsi Telehealth Care centre at Dutkanedhar-Satbunga. Support from such a solid team, now strengthened everyone’s resolve to fight the virus in their beautiful Himalayan villages. 

In Saryu and Pindar Valley:

In Kapkot block of Bageshwar as well, through Mahesh Chandra Singh, the Trust Coordinator, the Village Ways Charitable Trust-HERnetwork from Saryu and Pindar valleys have extended support to the health department to spearhead the fight against COVID 19. Amidst the remoteness of the valleys, the difficult terrain, acute shortage of front line workers, the inherent lack of access to information about not only the precautions to be taken against the virus but also to recognize the signs and symptoms and to promptly seek immediate medical care when sick were the major challenges present in the area.

A note of gratitude to Ms Anita Lal, Goodearth Foundation, who responded to a call giving immediate support to the critically important COVID 19 awareness campaign in both the remote valleys of Bageshwar.

In Narsan and Khanpur blocks of Haridwar:

Similarly, the Village Ways Trust team in Haridwar district has been working with the District Administration. Given the peri-urban challenges in the area, the Team is working in tandem with the block programme managers and Medical Officers in charge of the project areas to help disseminate awareness about preventive measures against the novel Corona virus. A training and awareness workshop is currently being planned for the front line workers at the grassroots.

Constant vigilance for symptoms of COVID 19 within the community households, prompt reporting and screening of suspected cases, limiting unnecessary travel, focused public health messaging on importance of social distancing, hand hygiene, cough hygiene, specific instructions to not touch the face, particularly eyes, ears and nose through dissemination of pamphlets at the household level are some of the strategies being employed by the Trust.

The front line workers need to be applauded for their selfless service in safeguarding and creating an awareness about preventive measures against such an infectious disease within these remote Himalayan villages. 

 

 

This is a blog written by Dr Tejaswi Balasundaram, the Project Head of Village Ways Charitable Trust. She is a Dental Surgeon with Post-Graduation in Public Health, a Gold Medallist from IHMR University. She has over six years of work experience in maternal and child health, preventive health care, nutrition, WASH and school health programmes. In case of any queries, you can reach out to her at: tejaswib.villagewaystrust@gmail.com