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How Have Some Countries Successfully Controlled The Pandemic?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Adversities! Adversity can come anytime, anywhere, without knocking at your door and it expects you to be prepared for it. Unfair! I know, but there’s hardly anything we can do about it. Life is like this, it gives lemons as and when it feels like and no you cannot make lemonade out of it, rather it converts you into lemonade.

The lemons could be in the form of financial distress, mental distress, physical distress, anything. And this time life has chosen COVID, a deadly disease that has turned the world upside down.

Throughout the course of history, neither wars nor natural disasters have killed as many humans as microscopic viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause diseases to have.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the world to inevitably shut down in only a matter of days. The virus has taken just a few months to sweep the globe into a human crisis. Our generation has never seen anything like this before. A virus forcing even the mightiest countries in the world to shut down their economy and their society. Re-assess life and future. Economy draining lives falling, schools and colleges shut, roads empty, and people clueless.

We learn the hard way. It’s human nature. We are never prepared until the adversity falls on our shoulders and we need to be all hands-on mulling over the problem trying various experiments that might help us. Every adversity teaches us an important lesson. COVID similarly has taught us several lessons, Lessons which we will never forget.

But before we dive deep into the Lesson learned from COVID-19 in 2020 owing to the novel coronavirus, let us go over a quick recap of lessons learned from history.

Lesson learned by humanity from Deadliest Pandemics

To us, Covid-19 may seem quite unusual and a once-in-a-century phenomenon BUT history tells us that pandemics are nothing out of the ordinary. From the Antoine Flu (165-180 A.D that killed over 5 million people), Black Death (1347-1352 killed an estimated 75 to 200 million) to the recent 1918 flu that resulted in the death of over 50 million people.

Unfortunately, the first plague of human civilization never disappeared. It came back 800 years later under the guise of the Black Death to haunt the modern world. By then, we learned to travel to different points of the world and cover every inch on the planet. This enabled the virus to travel and spread faster than anyone had anticipated. So, how did the pandemic end? Quarantine. It was understood that the only way to contain the spread was to contain the society itself. We learnt that quarantine was a simple and effective way to minimize spread in the modern world.

Since the last pandemic i.e. the 1918 flu, we have taken massive steps forward in improving our sanitation, nutrition, and hygiene making the human population healthier and less vulnerable to illness than ever before. We have invested an ample amount of resources in medical research to constantly innovate. Because now we knew that pandemics are nothing out of the ordinary.

Compared to these, the novel coronavirus seems to have been quite gentle on us.

But as they say, never let a crisis go to waste.

So here are a few lessons we learned from COVID 19

four major factors to stay safe from covid 19

Immediate Action helps

Timely and effective measures are the primary reasons why countries like Slovenia, Jordan, Iceland, Greece, and Vietnam have been able to successfully control the pandemic.

Their governments immediately imposed countrywide shutdowns, tested millions, isolated the sick, and educated the citizens on preventive measures like social distancing and the utility of masks and sanitisers.

Take Slovenia for instance. The country’s first case was confirmed on March 4, and it only took two weeks for the Slovenian officials to shut down schools, businesses and freeze public transportation. Such immediate action has borne fruits for the country as it is steadily returning to its normal state.

Another honourable mention is South Korea. This country has forced the world to “Look East” when it came to the effective management of covid-19. South Korea has shown that it’s way ahead in the Covid-19 journey than Europe or the USA. It has leveraged its strengths in Information Technology, community health services, and collective wellbeing oriented bureaucratic measures to the maximum level to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country. It immediately set off hundreds of testing centers, isolated the affected, tracked down suspected cases through mobile and GPS technology and more.

Hygiene is necessary 

One of the basic preventive measures that are helping the worldwide population battle the novel coronavirus is the focus on hygiene. We are being directed to wear a mask, keep a distance, wash our hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, use sanitizer, cover our mouth while coughing, and more. The basic hygiene practices can eliminate if not all then at least the majority of the risk of being infected by the deadliest virus of the century.

mask enforced please be respectful wear mask

The hygiene practices are important but exceedingly difficult to follow in third world countries such as India which tends to hygiene lightly. Even now we see many people roam around without a mask or not wash their hands. They need to learn. Period.

Less focus on work and more focus on family 

Work from Home came as a blessing in disguise. People became more efficient as they were in their comfort zone thus increasing their efficiency. Companies like Google, Microsoft provided monetary benefits to the employees which were icing on the cake. One con is that work from home never ends, working time has obviously increased but people are not bothered as they can walk in their kitchen and grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat to rejuvenate themselves.

Many people saw the nationwide lockdown as a golden opportunity to reconnect with their families. Maybe, our generation did need some time off from checking our Instagram notifications and making data presentations and channel this extra time towards reconnecting with our family and friends. Doing household chores, participating in family time was a silver lining of the lockdown.

The planet’s regular need to rejuvenate 

Did you know that according to an analysis conducted by ‘Carbon Brief’ coronavirus is all set to cause the largest ever annual fall in CO2 levels?

Moreover, with a dozen countries going under complete lockdown, CO2 emissions have been going down steadily all over the world. In the first few months alone China detected a 25% cut in emissions.

In Delhi, within a month of the lockdown, a drastic fall in pollution levels was seen. As a result, the sky was clearer than ever, and the air was much lower than its usual toxic level.

Better Government Required?

This is going to irritate many people but let’s admit, our government has failed us when it comes to COVID. Unplanned lockdowns, a failing economy, rising infections have done nothing to make things better for the government.

It is the government’s responsibility to keep its people safe. From the apathy of migrant workers to the conditions of quarantine centres to the scam of private hospitals charging overly high fees for treatment, the government has failed to provide to its people.

I think we really to consider these points when we vote the next time.

EdTech is the future of Education

Covid-19 has brought in a surge of popularity of online learning, distance education, learning management systems, and other key EdTech innovations.

Moreover, The World Bank is working with dozens of developing countries to help them leverage the online mode of learning in this time of crisis.

Take for instance the case of Toppr, one of the leading EdTech companies in India. According to an interview conducted by Inc42, the CEO of Toppr said that ever since the lockdown the company has seen a four-fold increase in paid subscriptions along with a growth in web-traffic rising to more than 25 Mn sessions last month (May 2020), with an average of 800K sessions per day.

This global pandemic has forced educational institutions including K-12 and Universities to adopt remote learning and learning management portals to ensure that learning goes unhindered. This has currently led to a massive boom in the EdTech industry. They have made one thing sure, that the future of education will rely heavily on a blended model of education – online and offline.

I hope these Lessons from covid 19 are enough for us to remember and make a note of what to avoid in the future. The hard way is not the way, to be honest. If we need our country to be compared with better-developed countries, we really need to focus on the main issues. Again, as they say, do not let a crisis go to waste. We can only hope that we survive the pandemic only to remember and enjoy these lessons from it.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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