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Synopsis: The Kerala model provides a lot of lessons to the Center and the State governments to tackle the pandemic.
India at present is not only battling with Covid-19 cases but also battling with many associated issues. Such as floating dead bodies in the Ganges, the demand for medical oxygen and the challenges with the vaccination drive, etc. All these impact the health infrastructure of India a lot.
Lockdown and prerequisites:
With these challenging issues, there is a debate going to implement a national lockdown. Even if a national lockdown is not feasible, regional lockdowns/micro-containment zones are necessary. But before imposing them, there are a few things to consider.
- The lockdown has to protect the interests of migrants and other worst affected sectors.
- Adequate preparation and planning are required to ensure the proper continuation of lockdown.
- The government has to provide an adequate time for the people to get themselves to prepare for the lockdown.
Lessons from Kerala model to tackle the pandemic:
The Kerala model provides lessons to not only implement the lockdown but also to tackle the pandemic effectively. The important initiatives are,
- Transparency in governance: The government of Kerala provided daily press briefings. During that, the government reveals detailed information on the rate of infections and fatalities. Apart from that, the regular information includes the availability of beds, ICUs, oxygen, vaccines, and measures taken to deal with the pandemic.
- All these increased public participation in controlling the pandemic. Further, the public also knows the gravity of the situation and built people’s trust and confidence in government measures.
- So, the Central government and other state governments have to see transparency as an important part of the COVID-19 response toolkit.
- Tackling Hunger: To tackle poverty and hunger, the Kerala government provided food kits to homes. Apart from that, Community kitchens and Janakeeya hotels(people’s hotels) have also opened to control hunger.
- Providing adequate medical attention: The government of Delhi faced a lot of challenges in providing adequate medical facilities. As a result, people used personal networks to hunt for oxygen and beds in hospitals.
- In contrast, the Kerala model created First-level treatment centers and second-level treatment centres. These models screened and treated people appropriate to their symptoms.
- Only the most serious cases reach the district and specialty COVID-19 hospitals.
- Further, Domiciliary care centres have also been created in Kerala to provide shelter, food, and treatment to those who do not have space at home to be quarantined. This prevented the migrant worker not to flee to their hometowns in panic.
- In private hospitals, 50% of the beds have been declared as COVID-19 beds. Also, the government fixed the cost of RT-PCR testing and treatment charges in private hospitals at a reasonable level.
- The private hospitals filed a PIL against fixing of price. But the Kerala High Court dismissed the petition.
- Similar to the ‘Mumbai model’, beds are allotted through centralised control rooms in each district. These rooms also monitor the requirements of oxygen and ambulances.
- Empowering the Local bodies: The Kerala model identified the Local Bodies as a first line of defence in the fight against COVID-19. They perform various functions in controlling the pandemic. Such as,
- They look out for fresh infections amongst their constituencies and ensure the supply of medicines and provisions.
- Panchayat members motivate people to get vaccinated
- The Local body members also supervise the implementation of the lockdown in their locality.
- Apart from that, they also set up help desks, providing ambulances facilities, and organising food packets.
- The government has to understand that the battle against the Covid-19 is a long one. So, the Center and the States have to prepare for not only the second wave but for the third and fourth wave. To control them lockdowns will be inevitable until the progress of vaccination drives. The Kerala model has lessons for both lockdown and vaccination drives.
- Twelve Opposition parties issued a joint letter to the Center. In that they demanded,
- The government should initiate a free universal mass vaccination campaign.
- Ensuring an uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen and vaccines.
- Invoking compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production.
If the Centre provided these things and the other States adhere to the Kerala model then India can tackle the pandemic effectively.
Source: The Hindu