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An Overview Of The Catastrophic Second Wave In Uttar Pradesh

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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 Uttar Pradesh 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.

Rural Realities | Uttar Pradesh Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages

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 | Uttar Pradesh Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 19, 2021.

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

About Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India. It is home to every sixth Indian, with a population of around 20 crores according to census 2011. It is the most populous state in India as well as the most populous country subdivision in the world. The state is divided into 18 divisions and 75 districts with the capital being Lucknow and financial and industrial capital being Kanpur.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the west, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Delhi to the North East, Uttrakhand, and an international border with Nepal to the north, Bihar to the east, Madhya Pradesh to the South and touches the state of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to South East.

The two major rivers of the state, the Ganges and Yamuna join at Triveni Sangam in Allahabad and flow further as the Ganges. The Forest cover in the state is 6.09% of the state’s geographical area.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Uttar Pradesh is divided into 4 major regions as Paschim Pradesh, Bundelkhand, Awadh Pradesh, and Purvanchal. Districts in Paschim Pradesh are Meerut, Bareilly, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Moradabad, Noida, Hapur, and Baghpat. Bundelkhand comprises seven districts of southern UP with Jhansi, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot as major ones. Awadh Pradesh Includes major districts of Lucknow, Kanpur, and Faizabad. Purvanchal comprises the eastern end of Uttar Pradesh with major districts of Gorakhpur, Varanasi, and Prayagraj.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

The proportion of the rural population in Uttar Pradesh is 78%. Uttar Pradesh is home to the largest number of poor in India. Despite improvement in the recent decade, the state has experienced slower growth and poverty reduction than the rest of the country.

The SDG score of UP is 55 and it scores low in various SDG indices of Poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, and quality education. Thus Uttar Pradesh still faces significant challenges in reducing poverty in its various economic and non-economic dimensions and improving security and well-being for all citizens.

COVID-19 Second Wave

According to Additional Chief Secretary, Health, 28,742 villages in the state of Uttar Pradesh reported positive cases during a testing drive in 89,512 villages. 68% of villages are free from infection. U.P. recorded 282 new deaths, according to the State Health Department as of 19 May 2021.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

By March 14 on the eve of the first nationwide lockdown, it spread to 15 states and UTs with 567 infections. As of October 12, 2020, all states and UTs (except Lakshadweep) were affected with 71.2 lakh confirmed infections of which Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu accounted for 51.2% followed by Uttar Pradesh.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

The Second wave of COVID 19 in India has been devasting with a catastrophic rise in the new infections in weeks in April. The country recorded around 2.2 crores confirmed cases and 2.5 lakh deaths as of May 10. This was the first time since the start of the outbreak in the country in March last year India’s daily cases crossed the 1 lakh mark.

The utmost concern is the sudden spike in positivity rates in states with large population bases. The positive rate of UP gone up from 3.75% to 9.75% with an average adding to 16,000 active cases a day. For the country as such case fatality inched up from 0.5% to 0.55%. The R-value points a scary picture pointing that one infected person on average can infect more than 1.5 to 2 people.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

While Uttar Pradesh with a population of 20 crores, managed to stave off the COVID crisis in the first wave, the state has been hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic. The state’s active case breached 2 lakh becoming the second worst-hit state in the country after Maharashtra.

The Second wave of COVID spread across the whole of the state and apart from high caseload districts of Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj and Kanpur at least 56 of the total 75 districts reported over 100 cases. In the second wave, rural areas saw an equal surge. District-level data shows a surge of cases in villages and small towns in the state. In rural areas have now 65% of the cases, massive exercise to hold panchayat polls in UP coincided with a sharp surge in COVID cases in rural areas and cases soared 120% in a month.

Counting The Dead

By May 2021 the death toll in Uttar Pradesh due to COVID-19 had crossed the 20,000 benchmark. The first wave had devastated the state with 24 districts in the State have reported 110 % more deaths in the period between March to July with COVID-19 being the leading cause of fatality. To make matters worst there is a worry of underreporting by the state under official numbers. The mismatch between death tolls and the number of reported dead becomes a cause of worry.

Emerging Issues

UP villages are in a panic as COVID 19 cases surge in rural areas. In villages, there is a growing sense of alarm due to spur in not only positive cases and deaths but also incidence of cold, cough, and fever. The beleaguered health infrastructure of rural Uttar Pradesh which recently saw migrants return home from city hotspots to vote in Panchayat elections is already overwhelmed.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

On vaccination coverage around 1 crore, people have been given first dose and second dose to around 31 lakh people, Uttar Pradesh is the state with the lowest vaccine doses per 100k population. Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the Uttar Pradesh government imposed a weekend lockdown on 24 April to curb the rising number of cases in the state. The state-imposed curfew for a week is extended till 24 May.

Black fungus has hit Uttar Pradesh with 73 cases reported so far with the highest in Varanasi. Uttar Pradesh is one of the worst affected states due to reverse migration and faces a mammoth challenge of returning migrants in the COVID crisis. More than 1.2 million migrants returned to Uttar Pradesh since the nationwide lockdown was imposed.

Way Forward

In view of the third wave of Covid, the government can issue a “white paper” to decide the commitment of its future plans. In rural areas, the Panchayat and DM need to be made aware to strictly follow the Covid protocol in the order of cremation of a person suffering from Covid on the death of a person suffering from Covid Needed. A top-down approach with effective decentralization can lead to inclusive policymaking so as to minimize the impact of the second wave and prepare for a third wave in moving towards a healthy and prosperous Uttar Pradesh.

Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda, Ishika Chaudhary, Nishi Verma, Priyanka, Ramya Kathal, Mahima Kapoor, Swati Solanki, Chhavi Kapoor, Arjun Kumar, and IMPRI Team

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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