COVID Stigma Impedes Infection Management In Odisha’s Sundargarh
Rourkela: Managing COVID-19 patients has become a formidable task in the rural pockets of the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district. The administration’s home isolation strategy and stigma attached to the disease only compounds the situation.
Sundargarh and Talsara Assembly constituencies and a part of the Rajgangpur AC in the Sundargarh sub-division, that are surrounded by borders with Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand besides Sambalpur, Deogarh and Jharsuguda districts are the worst affected.
Despite ICU and oxygen beds, the designated NTPC COVID hospital is overwhelmed with management issues.
Sundargarh MLA Kusum Tete told The New Indian Express (TNIE) that the spread of infection and high mortality is a result of lack of quality healthcare and faulty COVID-19 management. In the absence of Covid Care Centres (CCCs) or panchayat-level institutional quarantine centres, villagers are forced to stay in home isolation irrespective of the fact that a majority of the families live in a one-room house.
With the stigma attached to the disease, many families are unwilling to come forward for testing, she alleged and added that due to mismanagement, patients are left to fend for themselves at the NTPC COVID-19 facility. Adequate quarantine centres at the rural level could have helped in curbing the COVID spread, she was quoted as saying.
Sundargarh Chief District Medical & Public Health Officer SK Mishra said all possible efforts are being put in place to arrest the trend. With help of PRI members, mass testing is being done and micro-containment zones are created. Stating that positive patients are willing to stay at home, he said that the CCC at Sundargarh town has 40 occupants against the capacity of 100 now. He informed that 30 infected migrant workers have been isolated at TMCs.