Training to spread safety message
Community health workers are being trained to spread the message of precaution (washing hands, not touching eyes, ears and nose, and practicing cough hygiene) people in villages and remote corners of the state should take.
Unicef and the state health department are training members of the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) online who in turn are training the Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) in person. An important part of the training is to ensure those infected with Covid-19 are not stigmatised.
To allay the fears in the minds of the people about Covid-19 a part of the training is to tell them that not all will be severely affected and there will be many with mild infection and that people will recover.
The training is also needed to allay the fears of health workers that they might get infected and stigmatised socially, a health department official said.
“The training will make them aware how Covid-19 spreads and how people can stay safe. It will allay the fears of health workers and they in turn can spread the message in villages,” Mohammad Mohiuddin, chief, Unicef office for Bengal, said.
“Since Asha workers visit homes, the precautionary measures for Covid-19 can be disseminated in the districts through them. The Asha workers are mainly from the districts and their acceptance in villages is more,” he said.
The questions that have come up from health workers during the training are mostly related to precautions they should take while visiting homes in villages. The training has focused on ensuring neither health workers nor people in general should stigmatise those infected with Covid-19.
The dangers of stigma can result in people hiding the disease or not accessing medical services, the health workers have been told.
“Community health workers are being told that they should see to it that general people don’t stigmatise the infected. Health workers should be sensitive with words while communicating with family members of a Covid-19 suspect or someone who has tested positive for the virus,” Kaninika Mitra, health specialist who has been conducting the training, said.
'People have to understand that all health workers are not directly dealing with Covid-19 patients. And those who do take necessary precautions not just for themselves but also for their family members because they know that the virus is contagious,' Mitra said.
At least 20,000 ANMs and 50,000 Asha workers have been trained so far. They have been told to focus on facts and figures while addressing people and not to be led by messages circulating on 'social media'.
The important messages that need to be spread are: follow proper hand hygiene, cough hygiene, social/physical distancing and special attention to high-risk people (those with underlying medical conditions).