COVID19 in rural India: Shortage of PHC doctors, preference for quacks and high vaccine hesitancy -Sanjana Kaushik
A recent rural survey of 300 respondents in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, found 38% respondents preferred quacks for treatment, commonly known as nadi babas. Against 14% registering for COVID vaccination, only 4% went ahead for inoculation. These challenges need to be addressed urgently as the virus has spread in rural India.
Sixty five per cent of India’s population resides in rural areas, while only 33 per cent of the health infrastructure caters to their needs. The rural healthcare infrastructure is three-tiered and includes a sub-centre, a Primary Health Centre (PHC) and a Community Health Centre (CHC). As per reports, these PHCs are short of over 3,000 doctors, with the shortage having increased by 200 per cent (or tripled) over the last 10 years.
Due to numerous reasons and the second COVID wave, there has been a spike of infections in rural India, which had been doing better until now. According to reports, cities like Delhi and Mumbai are in immense trouble – which is true – but they have neglected the dire situation of villages, where the lack of health workers, oxygen and proper facilities is nothing but frightening.
The rural community is scared and anguished. With the first wave gone, most forgot about the disease and moved on, especially in rural areas as its impact was not felt as much. But a couple of weeks ago, in Petlawad, a remote block of Jhabua district, Madhya Pradesh, as the second wave hit, almost every third villager started showing symptoms, and no one was prepared.
The health infrastructure was not only unprepared, but also ill-equipped to combat the virus. The few medical staff that are there, are hesitant to treat patients due to fear for their families and their own wellbeing. The second wave is destroying livelihoods and taking away loved ones from rural communities leaving them vulnerable.
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GaonConnection.com, 21 May, 2021, https://en.gaonconnection.com/covid19-rural-india-shortage-of-phc-doctors-second-wave-vaccine-hesitancy-vaccination-testing-quacks-madhya-pradesh/