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How Can We Utilise Science In Order To Protect Ourselves From 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.

The second wave of COVID-19 has terrorized the entire situation more than before. Everywhere, people are feeling paranoid about their survival. They are unable to understand how to stay safe and  protect themselves from the viral infection. During this pandemic, thousands of people are getting infected every day and a large portion of people are dying.

Lack of health facilities and the notion of fear are causing mass panic in this terrible situation. However, the sudden spread of second wave of the Coronavirus in India raises many questions not just about the public health infrastructure, but also the daily life of the common public. India’s public health system on the one hand is not able to provide basic facilities to its citizens, and the daily life of the common public on the other hand has also been responsible for the rapid spread of the virus.

In cities like Delhi, it very common that those who have been infected are not able to get the basic support either from the government or from their own family members. This is very terrible situation and has created an unprecedented health crisis in India. Many reports have exposed that in many cases family members are not supporting the patient psychologically, some even going to the extent of not retrieving the dead bodies of their family members due to the fear of infection. Many such images and videos are going viral on social media, clearly depicting how the common people have lost their confidence and sense of humanity. Elderly people have also passed away due to the dearth of hospital facilities, as well as due to lack of support from their family members. It can be observed that the current situation of India during this pandemic has been amplified due to the lack of understanding about science.

India's Covid-19 vaccination for senior citizens launches to relief and confusion, South Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times
Elderly people have been neglected due to the dearth of hospital facilities, as well as due to lack of support from their family members. Representational Image. Credit: EPA-EFE

What Is Science And Why Should It Be Practiced?

The idea of science not only defines our daily life but also our thinking and behavior, in accordance with the principles of the scientific method. It always talks about cause and effect, and that nothing happen without a cause. Therefore, the principle of science helps us understand what happens around us, on the basis of observation, logic, and reason. It often challenges our beliefs and values which might sometimes create pockets of irrationality in our mind.

One of the key aspects of science is it tends to stand for humanity and develops a different kind of notion to protect the nature in totality. Many philosophers including Buddha, following the same idea of science, have defined not just meaning of human life but also nature and its connection to the human life. They challenged several metaphysical notions that often create irrational values and beliefs in our mind. The ultimate goal of science therefore is to expose the logic and reason behind everything. It offers not just a method to understand things logically, but also a philosophy to lead human life in a more scientific and conscious way for the future generations.

During The Pandemic, How Can One Practice Science?

The practice of science during this virus outbreak has raised many questions about the government and public response. On one hand, the projection of fear by the media and government has created panic and hysteria among the public, and on the other hand, common people are not following even the basic notions of humanity, togetherness, and shared values.

COVID patients, families beg for oxygen at India's hospitals | India News | Al Jazeera
Several news reports have exposed that due to the fear of virus, no one is ready to help the infected. Representational Image. Image Credit: Altaf Qadri/AP Photo

Several news reports have exposed that due to the fear of virus, no one is ready to help the infected. Most people are living with psychological trauma and not able get any support either from the government or from their neighbors. The reason behind this entire situation is lack of scientific thinking and rational belief.

If the common people follow the principle of science than it must reduce all such obstacles, which have been developed during this crisis. It also reproduces the core value of humanism, creating the notion of equality and justice within the society. The practice of science, therefore, is not just a process that redefines everyday life and belief on the basis of scientific logic, but also rejects all kinds of irrational values, behaviour, and thinking which exist in society. Gender based inequality, caste differences apart from religious and ethnic fanaticism that create many obstacles in society are being silently challenged by science. which makes society more progressive and conscious during the crisis.

Science Can Protect You In Three Ways:

The idea of science has close connection to human life, its surroundings, and geographical location. For that reason, if anyone practices science during this pandemic, it protects them in three different ways:

  • Firstly, if we practice science in everyday life, it offers a ground for logical thinking and scientific understanding about the virus outbreak in India. During this pandemic, logical and scientific thinking will give the way through which anyone can understand actual reason behind the virus spread and its effect on human beings. It is also important to know that due to notion of fear and lack of factual information about the Coronavirus, large numbers of people are dying every day in our country. Logical and scientific thinking therefore is the first step towards developing rational thinking within individuals to protect them from the virus. In other words, the notion of science make the individual more logical and conscious about factual information regarding the origin of the virus and its effect over human beings.
  • Secondly, science also makes the individual more conscious about their lifestyle. Many reports have suggested that the lifestyles of common people in India have completely changed. Common people are not just living under the grip of the global market, but also serving their daily life following the cold logic of the market. Nowadays, most of the common public are fully dependent on the market and they do not have the time to think over their changing behavior and thinking. Therefore, the practice of science forces an individual to think not just about their daily life but also to reject market interventions in daily life.
  • Finally, science always defines the necessity of both physical and mental labor for a healthy life. To boost the immune system and make it more responsive, a scientific daily life forces the individual to be more conscious to balance physical and mental labor.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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
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