Covid precautions to medical equipment: Masses remain poorly equipped ahead of third wave, finds Survey

Express News Service
RAIPUR: A year and a half into the pandemic, the preparedness levels of India’s urban poor and rural population remain abysmally low when dealing with Covid-19 infections at the household level with many lacking the basic medical equipment to gauge vital health parameters.

A survey in ten states of the country by the research organisation Sambodhi Panels, conducted in July 2021, gives new insights into the preparedness of India’s vulnerable sections of society particularly after the raging second wave even as the nation apparently gears-up to meet a distinctly possible third wave.The 7,116 households survey found just around 20 per cent had thermometers and about 50 per cent had over the counter drugs available to treat symptoms like fever, headaches. However, only 9 per cent of the households had Oximeters while a dismal 3 per cent had access to oxygen cylinders.

Also, only 40 per cent of respondents were aware of medical suppliers/shops nearby to access in case they had the symptoms of coronavirus.

ALSO READ: Third Covid wave may occur either due to mutations in virus or pool of susceptible population, says CentreThe surveys empanelled over 14,000 households with verified respondent details from different states including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The research panels found that the people are largely uninformed about newer variants of Covid-19 virus and the associated symptoms such as diarrhoea, skin rashes, conjunctivitis among others.“Given how dynamic the course of this pandemic is, we need rapid generation of data insights to meet urgent response needs in crisis situations. Further, we need data collection across time periods to be able to study trends and forecast so as to plan for the future,” said Swapnil Shekhar, co-founder, Sambodhi.The survey did show that awareness about home-care for Covid-19 patients were high among respondents, with 88 per cent of the people able to identify at least one practice such as isolation in a room, wearing a mask, and using separate utensils, towels, bedding for the patients among the measures to be adopted.The respondents, however, lacked proper understanding on when to hospitalise a Covid positive person. This of course has implications for the already stretched healthcare system.Following the extensive surveys, the Sambodhi Panels felt the need to increase information dissemination among vulnerable sections of society on newer Covid variants, associated symptoms and recommended treatment protocols.