Bengal Govt Engaged Rural Health Care Providers In Covid Fight

A training session for the informal healthcare providers in Phulia.

Kolkata, May 15: The State government will engage the quacks – officially recognised as Gramin Swasthya Parishevaks (GSP), who are enlisted as Informal Health Care Providers (IHCP) so that they may take an important role to contain Covid19 in the rural areas where the surge of positive cases has become a matter of serious concern.

In an initiative to include the GSPs in its endeavor to contain the deadly virus in the rural belts, the state government has decided to use them by building their capacity so that they can be engaged in guiding and counselling the Covid patients at ‘home isolation’.

In the rural areas of several districts in Bengal, the spike in positive cases in comparison to last year has become manifold. Districts like North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Birbhum, Murshidabad where around 80% of people live in rural areas, recorded an exponential rise in positive cases.

Director of Health Services Ajay Chakraborty said, “It has been felt necessary to reinforce the preventive and basic care measures and practice in the rural grass root level to combat Covid.  The Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), Angwanwadi Workers (AWW) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) are doing their best in rural areas. Nevertheless, the service of the Gramin Swasthya Parishebaks has become most important to contain the disease since they are the first point of contact for most ailments, especially in the odd hours”.

“They are culturally connected with rural people and support people in the times of need. They may take an important role of guiding the people in this pandemic when cases are spreading in the remote rural areas. Considering the above, it is felt that all such GSP, who are already enlisted as Informal Health Care Providers (IHPC) be oriented on Covid patient care & support”, a senior officer of the health department said.

To sensitize the GSPs, the state health directorate’s public health wing has planned a two-days audio-visual training-cum-orientation programme at the block levels across the state which will begin from Monday. Swasthy Bhawan has directed the Chief Medical Officer of all the districts to organise the training and to submit the compliance report by May 19 so that the GSPs can be pressed into action at the earliest.

Manoj Chakraborty, state president of Progressive Rural Physician Welfare Association, West Bengal, an organisation of the GSPs, has welcomed the state government’s initiative. “It is a big recognition for about 2 lakh GSP who have been trying their best to support to Covid patients in rural areas in absence of qualified doctors risking their lives”, Chakaraborty said.

In its directives, the state health directorate has advised the CMOH’s to lay special emphasis on development of skill of the GSPs for guiding and counselling of the Covid positive patients recuperating at home isolation. “This is a very crucial aspect of their job for which they need to develop communication skills to interact properly with the patients to provide them care and mental support. We will take the support of experts for such capacity building”, an official of the state health directorate said.

“Once the training is completed by May 19, the GSPs will be pressed into activities. They will regularly provide information to the local Block Medical Officer in a prescribed format through the local ASHA, AWW and ANMs”, an official said.

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