More than a million women in rural India work voluntarily to curb the expansion of COVID 19 .
In India, thousands of women volunteer to curb the rate of COVID-19 infections. / Photo: Pixabay - Reference Image
The Woman Post | Maria Lourdes Zimmermann
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Leer en español: Cruzada de mujeres contra el COVID19 en India
Health workers who are part of a government program to stop the spread of the virus in the country that already leaves more than 500,000 infected and 16,000 dead, walk through sidewalks and towns, carrying a door-to-door message to educate the population about the risks of the disease and how to prevent it.
To prevent the spread of COVID19, the Indian government has confined 1.3 billion people since March. Under these conditions, the women who are part of the Anganwadi community centers, created since the 1970s to meet the basic needs of the child population, fight hunger and malnutrition; now sensitize the population and provide them with food.
Vulnerability is high, dressed in their traditional costumes, with masks, and a disinfectant, and without much more that allows them to have greater security to avoid contagion, they recite a parliament that frees those who are in confinement, but not themselves who remain in contact with the community.
In the population of the southern state of Karnataka, one of the many places where these women work altruistically and voluntarily, they recommend the residents not to go outside unless necessary, explain how the virus is circulating, how it can infect people and reaffirm the importance of washing hands and wearing a mask when going outside, but achieving these conditions without income and lack of water is almost an impossible task to accomplish.
India is going through a strong economic crisis caused by the impact of the pandemic on the Asian continent and this is added to a lack of drinking water in the country. According to a 2018 report by Niti Aayog, a group of policy experts for the Indian government , only a quarter of households in India have clean water and approximately 200,000 people die each year due to inadequate water supply and contamination.
The situation seems dire, aggravating the condition of the health volunteers due to the decisions of the Government, which was forced to relax travel restrictions between states in India, so that millions of workers in large cities returned to their rural populations, which would bring "an influx of new cases in the rural world," said Preethi Kumar, the vice president of the Public Health Foundation of India.
The million health workers, dealing with personal tragedies because they expose their lives for the rural Indian population, are taken away from their families when they go into isolation on suspicion of contagion and face the exodus of thousands of rural workers who return to their home.
"This society is afraid of the virus, they look at us with doubts and suspicions, " a young health worker who asked for anonymity told Efe, expressing her disappointment at the public reaction to her efforts on the ground. But still, altruism is their food and their cure, there are few infected, and the fight to control the virus is in their hands.
The pandemic is not expected to reach its tipping point in India for several more weeks, and experts estimate that the number of cases could pass a million before the end of July.