Alarmed with the spread of Covid-19 in rural areas, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has written to all state governments to take preventive measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in rural India.
To combat Covid-19, the Ministry in its letter has suggested states to sensitise and facilitate the panchayats/rural civic bodies towards meeting the challenge and provide leadership.
The Ministry has advised to undertake an intensive communication campaign for the awareness of rural communities on the nature of the Covid infection, and preventive and mitigation measures in accordance with the advice of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), doctors and medical institutions while specially taking care to dispel false notions and beliefs.
The Ministry has asked state governments to involve frontline volunteers from the local community for the campaign -- elected panchayat representatives, teachers, ASHA workers and they may also be suitably facilitated with necessary protective systems like finger oximeters, N-95 masks, infrared thermal scanning instruments, sanitisers etc.
To provide real-time information on availability of testing/vaccination centres, doctors, hospital beds etc. to rural citizens, the Ministry has advised state governments to leverage available IT infrastructure such as panchayat offices, schools, common service centres etc.
"The panchayats may be activated to provide the necessary institutional village-level support catering to their respective locations. Wherever possible, they may improvise households as home quarantine locations where maximum of the asymptomatic Covid positive cases could be managed. Additionally, they may also set up specific quarantine/isolation centres for the needy and returning migrant labourers. In consultation with the Health department, the panchayats may be designated to facilitate vaccination drives to ensure maximum coverage of eligible population, said the Ministry.
The Panchayati Raj Ministry has asked the states to leverage various Central and state government schemes towards the provision of rations, drinking water supply, sanitation, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) employment to provide relief and rehabilitation at the village level to the needy.
To deal with an emergency situation, the Ministry has asked state governments to establish proper inter-linkages with the medical facilities at the nearby districts and sub-districts so that emergency requirements like ambulances, advanced testing and treatment facilities, multi-speciality care etc. are provided to those in need without much loss of time.
Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, has requested states to set up a suitable inter-departmental monitoring mechanism comprising officials of Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, Health, Revenue, Women and Child Development, Education departments at block, district and state level to regularly monitor the functioning of the gram panchayats and their committees in respect of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and related public health issues.
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