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Covid: City-based NGO team to locate people with symptoms

Health workers to help slum residents get tested and treated

Jhinuk Mazumdar Calcutta Published 15.05.21, 02:31 AM
A health worker collects information in the community.

A health worker collects information in the community. Telegraph picture

An NGO working the underprivileged has created a team to locate people with symptoms of Covid-19 and provide medical help.

Many people in slums are hiding or ignoring symptoms until it becomes severe, said some of those who work with them. There is a tendency to ignore a fever or cold and cough as something that will “go away soon” without realising it could lead to a serious health condition.


The job of health workers who live in the community is to locate such people, get them tested for Covid and provide medicines if needed. “Our health workers are moving around in the community trying to find people who have Covid symptoms so that they can be diagnosed early. We tell the health workers not to ask directly because that might scare them and make them hide it but to find out indirectly if they have any health complaints,” said Alakananda Ghosh, deputy chief executive officer (medical), Calcutta Rescue. “There is a tendency to hide because they fear they will be sent somewhere else, away from the family.”

The NGO also intervenes if they find a student has skipped doing a task assigned to him or her. They often find the student has family members who have Covid symptoms.

Anyone with symptoms is referred to the NGO’s doctors who consult either on the phone or physically at one of the four clinics. For mild to moderate symptoms, the doctors prescribe medication to be taken at home.

“Those who have tested positive for Covid are being monitored and medicines are being provided to them. We have provisions for oxygen cylinders, too,” said Ananya Chatterjee, an official at the NGO.

She said the number of infections in slums was more than what was recorded last year. Congested living conditions, she said, make them more vulnerable. “We tell our beneficiaries that we have kept medicines for them and will provide them oxygen support, but they cannot afford to ignore symptoms and need to report them. We tell them that if their condition becomes critical, it will be difficult for us to get them hospitalised in the present condition.”

The health workers have been provided with pulse oximeters to check the oxygen saturation and taught to handle oxygen cylinders. They have also been trained in the Covid-19 protocols.

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