On 2nd May, AID organized a call focussing on public health with grassroots partners from Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Bihar (see links to learn more about their activities). Dr Vasundhara, a long time AID volunteer, led the discussion in Hindi. She clearly explained what COVID is, how it spreads, how tests are administered, and how results are interpreted. Drs Dipasri and Seth added their insights from their experience in public health and infectious diseases.
This was followed by a section on what people should do to #StopTheSpread and protect themselves as well as the community. Dr. Vasundhara repeatedly demonstrated the right way of wearing masks as well as pointing out things that cannot be substituted for a mask. This point was greatly appreciated by the participants since many of them had not heard or seen this before. There were many questions about what to eat or leave out, how long to isolate when diagnosed with COVID etc. A diagram of the parts of our hands that remain unwashed when we quickly wash our hands was also very instructive.
There were many questions about what to eat and avoid, and how long the isolation should be. Most of the questions were about vaccination. It was evident there was a lot of misinformation and myths that rendered vaccines very confusing to participants. For example, ‘were people dying because of vaccines?’ and ‘can one with an illness take the vaccine?’ were common questions. It was clear that a lot of awareness needs to be built around vaccination.
AID is planning on another session to build awareness around vaccination and home care. We need to remember that 80 to 85% of the affected population will have to be treated at home and will recover there. This is a big part of the iceberg that is generally unseen. AID will be putting in significant effort into this part of the work.
We hope that by strengthening the knowledge base and capacity of our partners, that awareness will spread to rural areas of India, which are significantly affected in this wave.