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Covid Second Wave: We Know Where The Centre Is Busy, So How Are States Managing?

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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.

As I write this article, I’m waiting to get myself tested for Covid-19. But all test centres in the area have a waiting period of at least two days. And if this is the situation in one of the posh parts of Delhi – where people live in regularly sanitised apartments, travel in their own cars, work from home, and have separate bedrooms for quarantining themselves in separate bedrooms – how must other areas be dealing with the sudden Covid spike?

For the past three days, India has been reporting 2+ lakh new cases each day. Hospitals are facing a long line of coughing patients with disparaging oxygen levels, as are crematoriums with a queue of loved ones wrapped in labelled white plastic sheet. Our Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with people requesting for information on plasma donors and hospitals with ICU beds for their parents.

As the Centre continues to shout slogans at election campaigns and take a dip in the Ganga during the Kumbh Mela, here is a round-up of the Covid numbers that they have left for the state governments to manage on their own.

 

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Maharashtra

The state has been reporting the highest number of active cases for the past few weeks, alone accounting for 27% of all fresh Covid cases in the country. However, this doesn’t stop the BJP and Shiv Sena from starting a political battle.

The state has been reporting a shortage of vaccines, the remdesivir medicine and oxygen supply in BMC hospitals, forcing patients to shift to other hospitals. Meanwhile, on April 18, 2021, a stock of remdesivir worth Rs 4.75 crore was found by the Mumbai police, suspecting that the drug was being illegally imported. To save the Gujarat pharmaceutical company that was moving the stock, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis reached the spot to say that the government had ordered the stock from the company.

Gujarat

Though the state has not made it to the five worst-affected states due to Covid, many suspect that it is because of the severe undercounting by the state. A small city such as Surat has been cremating over 100 corpses in a single day for the past few days, reported BBC Gujarati. “[The crematorium’s] exhaust chimneys are melting because the gas furnaces are burning 24/7,” AltNews co-founder Pratik Sinha tweeted on April 15.

Let alone provide adequate beds and oxygen supply in the hospitals, the Gujarat government did not even deem it necessary to dignify the death of its citizens by including them in the official numbers. As reported by Scroll.in, in Ahmedabad, the state government officially declared just 20 Covid deaths on April 12. But Sandesh, a leading Gujarati newspaper, claimed that at least 63 people had died in just one government-run Covid-19 hospital in the city on the same day.

Uttar Pradesh

If the competition is of apathy, one can always rely on the Yogi government to stand out. After videos and images of a large number of pyres burning on a crematorium ground in Lucknow went viral, the UP government ordered tin sheets to be put up around the ground to block the view.

Remember, pathology chains in the state have been reporting under-testing due to logistical constraints from the state, and there has been a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supply in its capital city. But the government put up tin sheets to hide people’s pain.

The Bhaisakund crematorium in Lucknow being covered with blue tin sheets on April 15 after its photo and videos showing a number of dead bodies burning went viral on social media. Credit: PTI

Delhi

While the second wave of coronavirus hit Delhi almost a month after it hit Maharashtra, it did not take much time for the capital city to surpass all numbers and become the worst-hit city within a span of few days. While the highest single-day peak for Mumbai has been 11,163 cases on April 4, Delhi recorded 25,000 fresh cases on April 18.

As long queues of Covid patients started forming outside state-run hospitals, the Delhi government has decided to convert banquet halls and hotels into makeshift facilities for treating patients.

 

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Other States

Similar headlines of record-breaking single-day cases have appeared on news channels of most other states. On April 4, Bengaluru recorded 8,155 cases, Chennai 2,564 cases and Pune 12,494 cases, the highest daily surge since the pandemic began. Amid campaigning for its eight-phase assembly election, West Bengal recorded its highest single-day spike on April 18 with 8,419 cases. The news does not seem to have reached the Election Commission, who has refused to club polling phases and imposed laughable restrictions in campaign rallies involving thousands of political workers

The last phase of polling in Bengal is on April 29, two days later. Can the country expect its prime minister to make his appearance before that and prioritise the country’s health? The answer is an eerie silence.

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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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