Urban slums are handling corona better reveals survey

Hyderabad: Some Urban Slums south of the city are handling corona pandemic relatively better than the core areas of the city thanks to the dedication and hard work of the ASHA workers and community leaders, reveals a survey done by the NGO Helping Hand Foundation.

The NGO, undertook a survey with aid of Asha workers and community volunteers in about 10 slums namely — Jahangirabad, Ghouse Nagar, Noori Nagar, Hashimabad, Ismail Nagar, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, Hussain Nagar, Patel Nagar — falling under the Chandryanguta constituency under the Barkas division to assess the COVID-19 situation and how the slums are faring better than the core city.

The above slums have approximately one to one and half lakhs of population and reported only 46 positive cases in the last 30 days. No cases reported before from the data obtained from the local primary health care centre. Over 308 members, mainly those who had contacts with positive cases and neighbours, were put under home isolation and containment.

Majority of the cases had mild to moderate symptoms. The survey noted that effective monitoring and treatment given at the door step by Asha workers in home isolation resulted in 23 cases recovered fully out of the 46 reported in this cluster of slums during the last one-month period.

Fourteen Asha workers and about five community leaders are playing a vital role in reaching out to suspected and positive cases in this cluster, door to door surveillance, tracking the positive cases, mobilising the primary contacts for testing and isolating the ones tested positive into home quarantine. Clearly the positive results speak for themselves.

The moment they get the list of positive cases they are visiting the house, checking the health condition, counselling the patient for self-isolation, separate toilet facility and good hygiene. All family members are also being counselled and their health statuses are being checked every day by the Asha workers.

Moreover, five houses to the left and right of the positive case are being put under the containment zone and banners are being put up to sensitise the public to maintain safe distance from this area. All members in the containment zone are being checked daily for fever and other symptoms.

Medicines are being supplied to the door step for the positive case and contacts and a tight watch is being kept by the community volunteers on their movement or any violation of home isolation rules. All this is being done under the supervision of the Medical Officer at the Urban Primary Health Care Centre, Bandlaguda.

The model adopted in some of the urban slums is similar to what has been done in Dharavi, Mumbai and is showing good results and we are stopping all mass congregations. “Even weekly bazaars are now stopped as the virus can spread easily,” said Mr. Feroz Mohammed, a local community leader working in the field.

“Many families and patients fear going to government hospitals for treatment and home isolation is giving them lot of confidence and they are getting lot of moral support from us,” opined an Mrs. Sayeeda Qureshi, Asha worker attending to COVID-19 cases in the slums.

In sharp contract are other clusters in core city areas, which are reporting higher number of new cases with a higher perecentage of severity and higher mortalities as compared to Urban slums.

“The field level connect is largely missing in the core areas of city, the absence of community leadership, inadequate door to door screening, contact tracing, testing primary contacts and isolating them is not happening in the same manner as in some slums,” opines Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari of Helping Hand Foundation who is also a Public Health Expert.

“Moreover, core areas of the city have a distinct life style pattern, large families, sedentary life styles, co-morbidities including obesity, congested households, poor air quality due to pollution, poor dietary habits are putting the people mainly middle and upper middle class are under high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Consequently, the infection rate and mortality is relatively higher,” he adds.

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