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An Overview Of The Catastrophic Second Wave In Maharashtra

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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 the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected Indian states and Union Territories and Maharashtra has been no exception. Due to issues like lack of infrastructure and human resources, both rural and urban people were caged in the web of grief and misery wherein even to see one’s loved one last time who succumbed to Coronavirus became an act of privilege.

Maharashtra

Focusing on the Rural Realities around the country during the pandemic, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) and IMPRI, New Delhi organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities | Maharashtra Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” onMay 13, 2021.

This article is an excerpt of the presentation given by Sakshi Sharda and the IMPRI team which provided an overview of the COVID-19 situation in India with special reference to Maharashtra to set the context for the broader discussion on the topic by the esteemed panelists.

About Maharashtra

Maharashtra is a state in Western India. The state is divided into six economic units Pune, Nasik, Amravati, Nagpur, Mumbai, and Aurangabad. These regions are divided into 36 districts. The state has 43,722 villages and 42 cities. According to the 2011 census the state houses a total population of approximately 11 crore people.

On the northwest is the state of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh on the north and east, Andhra Pradesh on the southeast, and Karnataka is on the southwest. Maharashtra was formed in 1960 when the Marathi and Gujarati linguistic areas of the former Bombay state were separated. Bombay (Mumbai) city is the capital of the state.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

The Western Ghats form the source of several major rivers of Maharashtra, notable among them being the Godavari and the Krishna. The rivers, along with their tributaries, flow eastwards into the Bay of Bengal, irrigating most of central and eastern Maharashtra.

Maharashtra is rich in ore deposits. Granite, Quartzite, Conglomerates are found in the basement regions of the Konkan rivers. Nanded is another region where pink Granites are found. Kami of Nagpur region is famous for coal. The Sahyadris holds several beautiful hill stations in their lap, which are beautiful and refreshingly serene.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

The state ranks 5 in the nation based on Per Capita Income and Tenth in the Sustainable Development Goal Index. It houses 54 percent of its population in rural areas which is below the national average, it has a lower sex ratio than the nation at 923. The literacy rate in the state is higher at 82 percent.

COVID-19 Second Wave

During the first wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic that the State of Maharashtra was amongst the top contributors to the caseload in India. From August 1, 2020, to December 13, 2020, the testing in the state of Maharashtra increased which corresponded with a decline in overall COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate fell to 6.8 percent.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Since March 1, 2021, there has been an active rise in the COVID-19 cases in India and as many as 1,97,842 cases were recorded as of April 15, 2021, and Maharashtra has been a major contributor of the same. The state has also made a negative RT-PCR report mandatory for those entering the state. The test report will have to be issued within 48 hours before the time of entry into the state.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Maharashtra has also been the frontrunner in imposing lockdowns since April to tackle the second wave. The state has issued guidelines to break the chain of COVID spread. The Maharashtra Government has extended the current Covid-19 restrictions in the state till 7 am on 1st June.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Maharashtra Government has temporarily suspended the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group due to a shortage of vaccines. Maharashtra’s Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state cabinet has decided that all the doses purchased for this age group will now be diverted for the 45 categories.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Counting The Dead

Since March 1st 2021, the Second Wave had hit the country, Maharashtra was again a leading contributor. The Mumbai Metropolitan region was leading in the second wave, the case positivity rate is 26 percent and has approximately lead to the death of 72,000 people.

Emerging Issues

The state was a front runner in responding to the oncoming national disaster and had announced lockdown as early as April. The guidelines in the State are called ‘Break the Chain’. The state shows a rise in rural caseload which continued to grow throughout May and early June. Vaccination Drive in the State remains lower than most states in India and the national average.

Screenshot 2021 06 27 at 11.16.07 AM
Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

There is an acute vaccination shortage. To tackle the same the State has issued an international bid to acquire one crore vaccine doses. To tackle the shortage further the quota from the 18-44 age group has been diverted for vaccinating the 45 plus age group. The state has also tackled the oxygen shortage by importing oxygen from Qatar. The state’s health care facilities during both the peaks were severely strained and during the second wave, the symptom of Black Fungus added to the concerns.

Way Forward

Good Governance is the need of the hour. Civil society organizations should carry a communication drive and create awareness at the rural level. Robust data is needed to come with an action plan. A multi-pronged strategy can go a long way. We need to create an active public surveillance system to minimize the impact of the second wave and prepare for a third wave in moving towards a healthy and prosperous Maharashtra.

Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda, Ishika Chaudhary, Swati Solanki, Mahima Kapoor, Chhavi Kapoor, Arjun Kumar, and IMPRI Team

Feature image is for representational purposes only.
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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.

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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.

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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