The Second Wave (2021) - Bajrang Bagra, CEO, Ekal Abhiyan
We have been sharing the Ekal contribution during the 2nd wave, through weekly bulletins of Ekal News, the E- newsletter of Ekal. Now that the things have improved substantially all over Bharat except a few pockets in south and lock down conditions relaxed, we would conclude these bulletins, this being the last in the series.
Before we part with, here is a snapshot of Ekal services rendered during the pandemic challenge:
The second wave surge was sudden, much faster and larger than the first, resulting in shortage of medicines, hospital beds, oxygen and other medical infrastructure. EKAL together with the whole nation was put to test once again, within a short span of time. The second wave of Covid pandemic impacted villages in a significant manner, presenting a formidable challenge to Ekal. As usual, Ekal with its wide and deep reach in countryside equipped, with a large service-oriented volunteer force, rose again to respond to the call.
Following steps were taken swiftly, pushing the organisation into action:
Ekal GRCs and Skill Centres at 25 locations were converted into Ekal Sewa Kendra, the Corona Isolation Centres. 25 such centres were set up and run in the states of Assam, Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, UP, MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat, with a total capacity of 210 Beds. These centres were located in remote rural places and duly equipped with basic diagnostic tools, Oxygen Concentrators and Para medical staff. Medicines and food were also supplied to the patients. At certain centres, the doctors’ consultation was available through video conferencing wherever network supported otherwise this was available through telemedicine in all the centres.
Telemedicine: Ekal Arogya Helpline was set up which became operative in last week of April to help the remotely situated village people who were not able to contact any doctor or health facility, Government or private. The helpline was based on a Toll-Free number widely publicised over Ekal network. A team of 400 doctor volunteers were enlisted for the purpose and more than 3500 people obtained doctors’ consultation through this facility. The facility was available in 10 Indian languages and will be of great help if third wave of Covid strikes. It is still operational in 23 states for telemedicine help in regional languages.
Running Vaccination Centres in collaboration with local Governments, mobilizing villagers and logistic arrangements were the contribution of Ekal besides Diagnostic support with 9,300 Oximeters and 9,300 Thermometers in villages, mobilising Ekal teachers, volunteers and local youth.
Proactively countering misinformation on viral spread and vaccine safety.
Manufacturing and distributing face masks at Women Empowerment Centres, training women in tailoring. More than 180,000 such face masks have been manufactured in this phase.
Distributing kits with sanitizers, medicines and ration for food was undertaken at a large scale in certain parts mainly in Maharashtra and Malwa.
Ekal Yuva, the youth wing of Ekal, came forward with innovative ideas and carried out various programs like running a Isolation Centre in Metro (Kolkata), Mobile Oxygen facility in state roadways buses (Karnataka), Vaccination drive and collecting unused medicines (Surat) etc.
Ekal worked jointly with other Non-profit organisations like Seva Bharti, Mission Oxygen, Intelehealth, Heart-to Heart Foundation, USA, Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Taiwan, Sarvmangal Family Trust, USA etc. to provide support to the rural population.
The above apart, awareness drive was launched all over Bharat for preventive methods to enhance immunity like use of Kada recommended by Ministry of Ayush, Yoga and Pranayama exercises, use of masks and maintaining safe distance. The lady volunteers from cities and towns have contributed a lot in this awareness drive.
The chapters abroad, USA and Canada in particular, came forward to lend a supporting hand since very beginning, in addition to raising resources locally.
We together were able to meet the challenge to put the villages and the nation back to normalcy.
Cultural issues play a very significant role even in pandemic of this severity. People in villages are used to personal interaction with human touch and as such Telemedicine on a Toll-Free number did not attract them in a substantial way despite the dire need.
There is misinformation, deliberate and with vested motives, about vaccination.
Covid isolation Centres are not popular, for want of information about them in first place and are not attractive in absence of expert doctors. There was no time to make the people aware about their utility.
There is lack of enthusiasm or interest in using preventive tools like face mask and distancing, again a cultural factor in villages.
Preparing for Third Wave
The experts have announced: “Threat of Third Wave is real”. In preparation for the third wave, Ekal has been taking the following steps: Awareness of Epidemic, Educating the Villagers about the importance of getting vaccine, Vaccine Supply, Readiness to open COVID Isolation Centers at 107 places in collaboration with WHEELS and FIPA, Ekal teachers are being trained to handle the local Covid situation, Preparing to cover about 20,000 villages with Telemedicine with trained health workers and the Ekal teachers with minimum training as intermediary, kits with medicine and food ration.
Sadly, we have lost 6 field volunteers in the line of duty to Covid. Ekal has decided to start an endowment to support their families.
Ekal offers heartfelt thanks to all its volunteers at all levels and especially to the donors, overseas and domestic, for their deep commitment and relentless devotion for the service of Bharat Mata, the soul of which resides in its villages and tribal areas.
Ekal Yuva's fight against Covid - 19
Oximeter Use, Distribution & Training
Ekal Arogya Helpline
Mask Production and Distribution
Ekal Sewa Kendra
Creating awareness to fight Covid - 19 at Ekal villages
Under the aegis of Ekal Yuva Varanasi, one day vaccination camp was successfully organized on 25th June 2021 at Panchayat Bhawan of Maniyaripur village (Bhairavnath Sanch, Babatpur Zone).
Awareness campaign for vaccination was also being conducted for a week before the vaccination camp. A total of 184 village residents were vaccinated in the vaccination camp, in which 120 village residents were in the age group of 18 - 44 and 64 village residents were in the age group 45+. Villagers enthusiastically ensured their participation in the vaccination campaign.
116 numbers of Pulse Oximeter and Medical Infrared Forehead Thermometer given to Ekal, Arunachal Bhag by Ekal Arogya Foundation of India
Ekal in Media
Tele-medicine Services and Promoting Vaccination
for 10 Million People Living in Remote Rural Villages in India
(Beyond Covid - A Sound Investment in Rural Community Health)