April 5, 2021, was a difficult night. My sister fell ill. In the midst of a lack of hospital beds during Covid-19, complete chaos hit us and my sister had to be admitted. She didn’t have Covid but immediately needed a hospital bed. Wards were overflowing, we were rushing from one hospital to another just to get her admitted, just to get her under some medical supervision.
We finally found her a bed, but while she lay in the hospital, I was forced to think: what if we were in our village? We happened to be in the city at the moment and had access to transport, multiple hospitals and good doctors.
While one Covid patient after another could be seen entering the hospital, flashes of my unequipped village hospital didn’t leave me. My village in eastern UP has 483 big and small families residing in it. We just have a small health centre that hardly anyone visits as it doesn’t have a doctor or even essential medicines required at an everyday basis.
There is only one hospital a couple of kilometres outside the village and the ambulance service to the hospital is abysmal. We have somehow managed to fight the second wave of Covid-19, but looking at how unprepared we are for another wave gives me jitters.
I might belong to a slightly privileged family and I might be able to afford to visit a private hospital outside of our village, but in the village, we only have ASHA workers to look up to.
It feels like the whole of India resides only in cities because all the focus is there. The cameras of media channels are there, the news is about them, the unlocking is only about cities and policies are for the cities, while villages and village dwellers seem to have been left to fend for themselves.
My question is to the CMs of various states: while cities are being opened up, tell us what you have done to protect your state’s villages from the third wave?
Are all health centres equipped with sufficient oxygen? Does the population have access to proper masks and preventive gears? How are villagers who live in a community, socially distancing? Do villagers and their family members, who work as daily labourers in cities and have now returned, have enough to eat? Are ambulance services a call away? Are crematoriums and graveyards ready?
These questions are sad, heart-breaking, and outraging at the same time. I am angered and as a common citizen, I have very few options and platforms to raise my voice.
I hope this blog reaches places. I hope we are able to wake up and work together before it is too late. While thinking of ways to do something, I came across a petition on change.org. The petition was started by the famous actor Sushant Singh. The petition has some viable asks. More than 40,000 people have signed it. I have signed it too. Here is the link to the petition. The demands that it states are:
We might not be able to build new structures, but we can ensure that older health care structures in villages are well-equipped and prepared. I don’t want to see more dead bodies in my villages. I don’t want to lose people around me when they could be saved if we are prepared.