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Community movement to fight against COVID-19

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Community movement is nothing but the accumulated response to any social issues through the community people. It is divided into four segments like individual, family, kinship and community. Each and every segment have distinct role towards alarming epidemiological issues COVID-19. The article’s tries to sketch the role and responsibilities of each and every segment of community movement to prevent COVID-19.   

Introduction

COVID-19 is nothing but the name of dangerous threat of death in the world. 207 973 people have already been died in 213 countries[1].  Bangladesh has been facing a devastating situation for COVID-19 from the last 08 March, 2020 to till date. Total 168 people have died for the virus among the 7667 identified cases within the last 8 weeks (8th week is not completed yet). The infection rate is increasing in every moment.

Figure 1 : Week wise confirmed cases

Government has warned that the virus will be spread in the whole country and community infection has been started[2]. The world famous scientists are constantly working to fight with the virus but they have been failing to stop the caravan of death in the world. Social scientists are also producing scientific write-ups to make policy in which respective country can take proper initiatives to tackle the harsh social breakdown. But no initiatives are working properly to fight against COVID-19. As a student of Anthropology, the researcher has been thinking to come up with a pragmatic measure to cope up with the natural pandemic of COVID-19. The researcher found that, Jayaprakash Muliyil is one of India’s foremost epidemiologists, said about the most acceptable way to fight against COVID-19. He talked that Community participation—not lockdowns—is key to fighting coronavirus in India[3].The researcher agrees with the epidemiologist. The researcher think that only behavior change can make difference to fight against COVID-19.  Now, it is a big question’s how can we change behavior of people? The answer is only community movement can help to change the behavior of mass people. The researcher think that community movement should ensure through the changing behavior of the following levels of any community of the world. 

Sensitization of Individual and Family

This is the most important and first step in changing behavior. The will of the individual is sufficient to change the behavior of the person. Yet it is important to follow the overall norms of society and the state. In all religions, we are told to abide by religious discipline to prevent the Corona virus. That is, “cleanliness is part of the faith.”Cleanliness is the main tool for the prevention of corona virus. Corona virus is infectious. The person spreads the virus through sneezing, cough, colds and breathing. When a healthy person comes in contact with an injured person within 3-5 feet, the risk of panic is overwhelming. If the victim is holding something like door handle or new, locks, water bottle / glass, lift button, stair handle, ATM booth button, water faucet, commodity flask / sitter, paper, pen, pencil, bag, bag, money, money, etc. And then after touching a healthy person, the person can be infected. If a healthy person uses all the substances used by the infected person, that person can be infected. This is why changing the behavior of the affected person is very important. The victim must be kept separate from other family members. The affected person must be prepared to change all his / her previous habits / behaviors and follow the advice of a specialist physician. This condition is called isolation / dissociation in medical science. Those who were or remain in contact with the affected person should be kept for 7 days. The distance from one person to another will always be 3 feet. No one will be able to touch anyone or use any of the materials used, and must follow the advice of a specialist physician. This condition is called quarantine in the language of medical science. It is important to assure some rights of the individual while in the quarantine. Quarantine’s obligations are as per the Siracusa policy-1984 of the United Nation are as follows:

  • All those who have the basic needs of the disease will have to make all the prevention.
  • There should be ample opportunity for communication with loved ones and caregivers.
  • Workplace, job, as well as financial loss should be taken into account, there should be compensation system.
  • Everyone should have equal opportunity in all aspects of social status.
  • Quarantine must be seen as necessary for society and the people.
  • It should be done to prevent the transmission of disease.

The elderly of the family have to take responsibility for changing individual and family behavior. They will monitor the daily behavior of all members of their family. It is important to remember that if an attack occurs, everyone in the family will be in danger. It is important to follow the World Health Organization’s specific policies in this regard.

  • Stay separate from other family members.
  • Stay in a separate room with light and air. If possible, stay at least 5 feet away from others. Use separate beds at night.
  • Use a separate bathroom, toilet. If it is not possible to reduce the number of places you have to use with others and arrange for adequate lighting in those places.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can breastfeed their baby. But before approaching the baby, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and use a mask.
  • Use a mask when staying in the same room with other members of the house, especially if you need to get within 5 meters / 5 feet or when you need to get out of the house when needed.
  • When exposed to colds, coughs, vomiting, etc., immediately remove the mask and use a new mask. After using the mask, cover the lid with dirt and rinse with soapy water.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer if necessary.
  • After soap-water use, dry your hands with tissue. If there is no tissue, just use a towel / towel to wipe the hands and replace them when wet.
  • Do not touch eyes, nose, face with unforgiving hands.
  • Adhere to cough etiquette. Wrap tissue paper / medical mask / cloth mask / arm during coughing
  • Cover your face and nose and clean your hands according to the above rules.
  • Do not share personal items with anyone else.

In both isolation and quarantine, it is best to remain engrossed in the prayer of the Great God and Creator. For this reason, government-declared holidays should force all the family members to maintain social distance. Social distance is the home away from all kinds of public meetings[4].

Kinship[5]sensitization: It is the culturally defined relationships between individuals who are commonly thought of as having family ties. All societies use kinship as a basis for forming social groups and for classifying people. All the kin groups’ leaders should take responsibility to aware their ken members about COVID-19 as early as possible. They should implement the all government’s rules, regulations, prescriptions immediately, in which all kin members are ready to obey the health instructions regarding COVID-19. 

Community Sensitization

It is the most important part to fight against COVID -19. The change in group behavior refers to the behavior of the victim and his / her family to other people in different neighborhoods. In this case, the head of each locality/ counselor of the local governments have to take responsibility for changing the behavior of all the people of his/her locality. People of all sectors of the community should come forward to extend their hands in this regard in which they can fulfil the minimum basic needs of community people. We can do it through the following comprehensive efforts.

Community Support Group (CSG) will be a key tool to fight against COVID-19 in the community. This group will be formed through one Diploma Doctor, two Nurses (one male and one female), one Counselor, and three aid workers (two males and one females). All staffs of community clinic and Community Family Care Center will be deployed to form this CSG. This CSG will be responsible for the following duties and responsibilities but not limited

  • To search the suspected persons who are suffering for COVID-19 symptoms
  • To refer the general patients to general health care center
  • To refer the suspected COVID -19 people for quarantine and isolation
  • To identify the COVID-19 patients
  • To refer the COVID-19 patients immediately
  • To follow-up the cure, quarantine and isolation completed people
  • To counsel the family members of suspected COVID-19 patients
  • To assist to get minimum all basic needs of the family from local government representatives
  • To identify the disadvantage people of the community
  • To assist to get minimum all basic needs of the disadvantage family from local government representatives
  • To distribute the Behavior Change Communication (BCC) materials among the community 

Community Volunteer Group (CVG): We need to form a Community Volunteer Group. It is essential to make the community people aware against COVID-19. This group will solely responsible to sensitize community people through Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials. From the above data it is indicating that males are most affected group. To control movement of males’ member of the community, this CVG will play a key role in the community gate. A representative of each and every family will allow to go out of the community in response to the basic needs of the family. Community leaders of each and every community both in the town and village should extends their hands to form the CSG and CVG as early as possible with the help of local government’s representatives. The local government’s representatives will need to take the responsibility to provide IEC materials as well as all kinds of logistic support to the members of CVG. The chief of local government representatives will act as a facilitator, monitor and supportive supervisor to accomplish the duties and responsibility of CVG and CSG.  Experiences of the cured patients will need to document as early as possible. The respective local government should take initiatives to explore the illness episode of these patients among the community people in which they can boost up themselves to fight against COVID-19[6].

Ensuring food-goods and medicine of community people: It is important to count total family as well as family members of each and every community. After counting all family in the community we need to identify the types of household of the community such as

  • Hand-to-mouth households: The household which runs through hand-to -mouth.
  • Needy households: The household which is needy but ability to run independently with some savings more than one months. The income source is totally stopped due to COVID-19.
  • Well off households: The household which is well of and ability to run independently with savings more than three months. The income source is totally stopped due to COVID-19.
  • Rich Households: The household which is rich and the house owner is the employee of Government or non-government organization.
  • Wealthy households: The household which is wealthy and ability to donation for the wellbeing of the community.

Now, we need to form a Community Aid Bank. The bank will be governed by the community people with the direct facilitation of local government representatives. The duties and responsibilities of the bank will

  • To make a data base of the community households based on voter lists.
  • To prepare a need assessment of the community
  • To introduce barter economic system (An example of a barter exchange may involve swapping a bag of nuts for some fruit or meat) among the community
  • To collect fund/aid/relief from the local government
  • To collect fund/aid/relief from the wealthy households of the community
  • To distribute the fund/aid/relief equally among the households based on needs
  • To supply essentials medicine based on needs through exchange of money

[1]WHO, “Coronavirus,” Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic, April 30, 2020, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

[2]Institute of Epidemiology Research (IEDCR) Disease Control and, “করোনা ইনফো,” accessed April 17, 2020, http://www.corona.gov.bd/.

[3]Arunabh Saikia, “Community Participation—Not Lockdowns—Is Key to Fighting Coronavirus in India,” Quartz India, March 24, 2020, https://qz.com/india/1824059/india-shouldnt-respond-to-coronavirus-with-only-lockdowns/.

[4]Md Nasir Uddin, “আচরণ পরিবর্তন: করোনা প্রতিরোধের একমাত্র উপায়,” March 28, 2020, https://www.deshsangbad.com/details.php?id=99624.

[5]“The Nature of Kinship: Overview,” accessed April 17, 2020, https://www2.palomar.edu/anthro/kinship/kinship_1.htm.

[6]Maksuda Khatun, “A Tool to Fight against COVID-19,” accessed April 17, 2020, https://en.deshsangbad.com/details.php?id=573.

Md. Nasir Uddin, Ph.D., is a professional who has been working in the field of research and analysis. Bangladesh. He has obtained his Ph.D., MSS and BSS degree in Anthropology from the University of Rajshahi respectively in 2015, 2005 and 2004. He has several journal publications in the field of qualitative social research. He can be reached at nasiranthru[at]gmail.com, https://rubd.academia.edu/MdNasirUddin and https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Md_Uddin_Phd.

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South Asia

The Need for Pakistan’s Digitalisation Policy

Syeda Dhanak Hashmi

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Change is the only constant and one has to keep evolving through new trends in order to compete with the changing dynamics of the world. There is no denying the fact that any country’s economic growth is now directly linked to one factor i.e., adoption of information and communications technology. The adoption of digitalisation is the new reality where majority of population has access to mobile phones and internet than to basic necessities of life. Digitalisation is not a choice, it is the need of the hour, therefore, the governments are now determining their policies and strategies for digitalising every sector, to promote and strengthen their socio-economic fabric.

Keeping in view the current scenario, the COVID-19 has had a major impact on almost all socio-economic sectors, the digital world has never been more important than it is today, Digitalisation is the new normal where consumers are buying everything online whether it is to buy groceries and essentials or to socialise and virtually reach with friends and family. During this critical time, many of these adoptions will persist long even after the situation has stabilised.

Globally countries are adopting new ways through digitalisation to ease the life of their citizens by providing them with improved and rapid amenities. The access to free internet services made it possible to pave the way for effective digitalization. An exponential increase is observed in the number of internet providers and consumers which demonstrates that the world is adapting with the concept of digitalization. It is witnessed that the developed countries has already shifted all their services from the outdated ways to online portals to facilitate the masses. In recent years, Pakistan is also evolving its IT sector promptly by introducing the latest technological mechanisms in the country.

The present government has taken up the task to digitalize the entire country and is working hard to create an e-governance system to bring down corruption, to ensure accountability process and also to augment the productivity in the country. The government has been taking great strides in the advancement of technology- from the Mohafiz app to digitizing the Postal service and the introduction of Tax Asaan mobile app which provides taxpayers with quick access of verification features like active Taxpayers list (ATL), NTN/STRN inquiry and exemption certificate etc. and many more. The PTI government has been proactive in the inclusion of technology within various segments and has also launched the online FIR system where people can submit their complaints online, and will be facilitated by government officials.

Nevertheless one might assume that digitalisation and government don’t blend,but in reality this fusion is helping the government agencies and officials to represent their agendas and administrative progress directly to the people through social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.).Perhaps the defined role of government social media accounts is to serve as a source of unrestricted updates. This includes everything from present initiatives to upcoming policy reforms and breaking news. Therefore, news should be a foundation of your content strategy as a government account. For instance, we are currently seeing social media crisis management in action for government organisations, including real-time updates in response to COVID-19. This illustrates that social media actually serves as a first hand source of information and provides people with timely updates. This is the brilliance of digitalisation and government that the voters and opposition are already there and the government has only one job that is to publish content which engages the attention from the public. This also suggests educating your followers by clarifying potential misinformation, keeping in view the fact that how quickly fabricated content can spread through social media, the government accounts serve as an important source for authentic information.

Statically, as per Pakistan’s Digital2020 Report, Feb 2020: there were 76.38 million internet users in Pakistan in January 2020 which illustrates that the number of internet users has increased by 11 million (+17%) between 2019 and 2020 and internet penetration in Pakistan stood at 35%. As far as the social media users in Pakistan are concerned, the number has increased by 2.4 million (+7.0%) between April 2019 and January 2020 which shows that there were 37.00 million social media users in Pakistan in January 2020 and the penetration rate stood at 17%.The source of this penetration depends widely on mobile connections in Pakistan. Reportedly, there were 164.9 million mobile connections in Pakistan in January 2020. The number of mobile connections increased by 9.6 million (+6.2%) between January 2019 and January 2020. Surprisingly, the number of mobile connections in Pakistan was equivalent to 75% of the total population in January, 2020.

With these growth trends projected to persist in the future, Pakistan is dire need of a comprehensive ‘Digitalisation Policy’. There should be a policy that must be implemented in its true spirits, and the government should devise an efficient monitoring mechanism to evaluate the vitality of that policy.

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South Asia

South Asia: A COVID-19 Outlier?

Noor Aftab

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International observers remain baffled at the rate of spread and impact of Corona on one of the most populous regions in the world. South Asia is home to more than a 5th of the world’s population. As is the case with other trends related to Corona, it is still not clear why the virus did not see the surge in the region that was experienced in other parts of the globe.

South Asia had been deemed as the perfect hotbed for the Coronavirus. It is densely populated, has poor public health institutions, and is geographically close to China, where the virus originated. Its people are also affected by severe levels of poverty, malnutrition, and hunger. While the countries share a similar heritage, the region happens to be one of the most poorly connected in the world, owing to bad road networks and toxic bilateral relations between some of the countries.

Despite strict guidelines from respective governments, social distancing norms are incompatible with South Asian society. It is a privilege only the elite can afford, as a vast majority of the people live in close proximity with their family members. The region also comprises of fairly religious societies, and governments have faced challenges in the prevention of congregational worship. In Pakistan, Khan was severely criticized for allowing communal prayer during the month of Ramadan.

It can be argued that the relatively lower numbers can be accounted for by low testing rates but if the health care systems in these countries had been choking up, it would have been very difficult to hide.

India, the economic giant in the region, can boast of imposing the strictest lockdown in the world. While the fatality rate is increasing with every passing day, the number of deaths is nowhere near that of Europe or the US. Migrant workers paid a heavy price for the lockdown, which was announced without prior notice, leaving millions displaced. The economic cost of the lockdown has been astounding, as an estimated 122 million Indians lost their jobs in April alone. India’s unemployment rate is now at a record peak of 27.1%,

Similarly, in Bangladesh, researchers from Dhaka University predict that around 15 million people from different sectors will become unemployed in the country due to slowdown of businesses. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Asad Umar, predicted that around 18 million people might lose their jobs as a result of the lockdown.

Modi and Khan have recently eased lockdowns in India and Pakistan respectively, in spite of increasing cases, as they expressed concern for low-income groups and daily wage earners in their countries. Their concerns regarding their economies may be well-founded. According to a recent Yale study, social distancing measures may be more effective in saving lives in higher-income countries. Whereas, in lower-income countries a complete lockdown may be counterproductive, significantly increasing the economic costs. Economic benefits generated by social distancing are estimated to be 240 times larger for the United States, or 70 times larger for Germany, compared to the value created in Pakistan. The value of savings would be 59% of the GDP for the US, 85% of the GDP for Germany as opposed to 14% of Bangladesh and 19% of India’s GDP.

There are several theories about the conservative spread of the virus in South Asia. None of them have been substantiated as yet. It could be that the pandemic was taken more seriously in these developing economies because there was an acceptance of the fact that they weren’t well equipped to deal with the crisis in case it hit them with full force. Some experts credit the warmer and humid climate of the region to have kept the spread of the disease in check. Others are talking about the protection offered to South Asians by the vaccine for Tuberculosis, BCG and possibly a weaker strain of the virus in this region.

One of the more plausible explanations for this trend seems to be the extremely young population of the region. The average age of an Indian is 26.8 years. The number is less than 25 years in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. In contrast, the average age of a citizen is 45 in Italy and above 40 in Germany, France and the UK. According to the Yale study, Populations in rich countries tend to skew older, and so the mortality rate is expected to be higher in those countries, in spite of the disparity in healthcare capacity.

According to Jacob John, a virologist from India, it is not sensible to compare the situation in South Asia with Europe yet, as the region is over a month behind in terms of timeline. Therefore, the April of Europe should be compared to June in India. The epidemic is developing in different countries at different rates and it has not yet reached its full maturity in the region.

There is little doubt about the fact that Covid-19 represents one of the greatest challenges for global leaders of our times. Policy has to evolve constantly according to the trajectory of the virus in the concerned country. The choice between lives and livelihoods can never be an easy one to make.

While it’s too soon to declare any country’s approach a success, it can be acknowledged that South Asian countries enforced stringent lockdowns at a relatively early stage compared to many in the West. However, locking down for over a month hasn’t necessarily slowed down the spread of the disease and the reversal of restrictions could lead to spikes in rates of infections. This in tandem with increasing economic constraints makes it a complex dilemma for policymakers. As the virus is yet to peak in the region in the coming months, the real challenge for the leadership lies in expanding their capacity to deal with the worsening situation.

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South Asia

The new political game in Afghanistan

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Afghanistan remains the conflict zone for the last 4 decades. Political dimensions changes not only effect inside Afghanistan but it really impacts on global politics. The fundamentalist moments are present inside Afghanistan and the Kabul government is suffering from the administration issues in different provinces. In the start of New Year, the hopes for the peace in Afghanistan were in peak. The 19 years of war, which was one of the longest conflicts in the history of Afghans, as well as the USA, look likely to be end soon. The deal called US-Taliban peace deal brings a new shining moon for the people of Afghanistan that they can see peace and prosperity.

During the 2019 elections, Ashraf Ghani started its second presidential tenure by winning the election but his rival Dr Abdullah Abdullah didn’t accept Ghani success. Due to this political instability, it directly sabotages the peace process. The USA also tries to play the role of a mediator but was initially fail due to the non-serious attitude of the Afghan politicians. In response, the USA announced to reduce their aid for Afghanistan. Afghan government several times also raises their concern regarding the peace deal. Prisoner exchange is one such example.

In a recent development, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal to end a months-long political stalemate. Reports stated that Abdullah would lead the council for peace talks and his team members would be included in the cabinet. Abdullah Abdullah, as the President of the High Council for Peace and National Reconciliation has now the responsibility to bring the Taliban to the talk’s table and achieve peace for Afghanistan. Furthermore, the report added that 50 per cent of the cabinet appointments will be made by Abdullah, and Gen Dostum will be honoured with the highest military rank of marshal and any dismissal or installation of seats will come into effect on reasonable grounds and with the consent of both parties. As this politician instability seems to be end soon. On the other hand, the Taliban response regarding this new development was that Afghans sides should focus on the real and sincere solution of the issue. The solution of the Afghan issue lies in the implementation of the Doha Accord, with avoidance from creating further hurdles. As the Taliban already believes that the Afghan government is the puppet regime of the USA so for any political development will not really impact on their movement.

However President Ghani is looking more towards the offensive used of the military. The recent attacks on 12 may which was carried out on a hospital’s in Kabul and on a funeral in Nangarhar Province resulting in the deaths of 56 people including newborn babies. No group has taken the responsibility but the Afghan government put the responsibility on the Taliban affiliated group Haqqani network. Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani also announced for the offensives military operation against insurgent groups including the Taliban. On the other side, the Taliban called for a transparent investigation on this attack. The Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that we firmly call for the transparent and impartial investigation of these attacks in order to expose the dark faces of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and bring them to justice. Furthermore, he added that Attacks on clinics, funerals and public infrastructure have no place in our policy. In addition to, the US Representative Zalmay Khalilzad also said that the United States’ assessment, the ISIS-Khurasan conducted the attacks on a hospital in Kabul and a funeral in Nangarhar.

Furthermore, the Taliban also appointed Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban group, as the new military chief of the group following recent upheavals, involving a spike in attacks against Afghan forces.

One of the biggest problems of Afghanistan is the division on the basis of ethnicity. Majority of the Afghans are Pashtuns and then come minorities which includes Uzbek, Tajik, Hazara community etc. This ethnic division really impacts on social issues as well as the national cause.

Here the concern is that the Taliban will not remain and wait for the negotiation with the Afghan Government. After this, their attitude will also change towards offensive and movement, the activity will take some speed. Now it’s time for the Afghan politicians to have a serious attitude for bringing the peace possible.

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