October 24, 2020

Odisha Channel Bureau
Bhubaneswar: With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading by leaps and bounds across the country including Bhubaneswar, the realisation that access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene is vital has grown. This calls for urgent action especially keeping communities living in informal settlements, with some more vulnerable than others, in mind.
It is in this context that all the endeavours taking place on the ground assumes importance. Speaking about this Soumya Mishra, State Lead, Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), Bhubaneswar stated that “supported by Water for Women Fund, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia (WfW-DFAT), CFAR has been empowering communities to fight the pandemic with both knowledge about the virus and as well as safe practices. In the process we have created 35 master communicators in 13 settlements,” she added.

Taking this forward Samir Ranjan Dash, City Project Manager, CFAR, stated that “we realised during the early stages of the pandemic that the only way the community can fight it is by protecting themselves not only as individuals but as a collective and to achieve this we have created master communicators representing different sections of the community.”

Explaining this Soumya Mishra said these master communicators were trained by the doctors at the urban primary health centre to fight the virus both clinically by washing hands frequently, wearing mask and maintaining physical distance but also socially by training others and empowering every trainer to take the responsibility of creating five more trainers among pregnant women, persons with disability, elderly, transgender, girls, boys and men,” she added.

Realising the enormity of the challenge before all of us especially after the un-lockdown began when the only way of preventing the virus and not getting overwhelmed by it is to have all the knowledge and the collective resolve to stop it the master communicators continue to spread awareness.

Explaining about the workshop held today at the Urban Primary Health Centre, Ghatikia, Samir Ranjan Dash said that the two-hour training session was attended by women and transgender from three settlements of Santoshi Nagar, Nakagate Chala Sahi and Kalinga Studio Kinner Basti. “Each of the participants who were trained by medical experts and given an information kit with visual material about how to communicate the risk of the virus and explain why, what, when, whom and how the risk occurs are confident that they in turn will be able to take the information to others who need it”, he added.

The training was facilitated by Shivshankar Padhi, Medical Officer in-charge and by Rajalakshmi Mohanty, Public Health Manager, Urban Primary Health Centre, Ghatikia. They not only oriented the participants about COVID 19 but also reduced their fear and anxiety about it. Speaking about how the training had impacted her, Deepa Das, a Single Window Forum member of Santoshi Nagar said it was of great help because they never imagined that they will face such a situation and its sudden advent has created a lot of fear. “We have reached a stage when even a common cold is being feared as a sign and symptom of COVID 19 and so much so that even a negative test report does not assure us that we are free of the virus, we have to keep seeing the report to convince ourselves”

Even more apprehensive was Phalguni Uujari, Transgender, Kalinga Studio Kinner Basti who said, “We are constantly on the road and deal with strangers and I have not got tested but I feel I could have had the virus within my knowing” and she wondered if the same person could test positive more than once.

Manasi Mohapatra (ANM) agreed that as even as frontline service providers they feel scared of the virus and at times feel that even they do not have sufficient information. “This kind of trainings will help in building knowledge and the collective reflection and discussion will strengthen our understanding of the virus and the way it behaves,” she added.

All the concerns and queries were addressed by Shivshankar Padhi. She began with a note of caution and said that the “community has to be careful and take all necessary precautions and understand that more than doctors people need to fight the virus collectively.” She recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and weekly intake of Vitamin D along with proper Isolation and quarantining

Adding to this, Rajalakshmi Mohanty, Public Health Manager urged them to tell people not to discriminate against positive people. “We need to empathise, help each other and stand together to overcome the virus,” she stated.

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