In rural India, fear of testing and vaccines makes it difficult to fight COVID-19


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When health worker Neelam Kumari knocks on the doors of the villages of India, the occupiers sometimes exhaust their fear, terrified of wanting to vaccinate them against COVID-19.

With the recession of India’s rising virus in cities, the deadly pandemic is sweeping the vast rural hinterland affected by poverty. But here ignorance and fear dominate.

“A lot of people in my village don’t want to get the vaccine. They’re afraid they’ll die if they get it,” Kumari told AFP in Dhatrath, a collection of two-story buildings in Haryana state with buffalo walking through the streets. .

“One of the villagers was so angry that he beat up a (health) worker who was trying to convince him to get the vaccine.”

Only 15% of people in rural areas, compared to 30% in cities, have received at least one dose of vaccine so far, although two-thirds of cases are reported in the countryside, according to an analysis by the newspaper The Hindu.

Rumors are shared online or spread through messaging apps like WhatsApp. Fears that 5G would cause COVID-19 led to the attack on mobile towers in Haryana.

“People are not even moving forward to get tested, as they believe the government will declare them positive COVID even if they are not,” Shoeb Ali, a doctor from the village of Miyaganj in the north of the state, told AFP. of Uttar Pradesh.

“Deaths after shooting”

This fear is permeated despite the sight of bodies dumped in rivers and hundreds of shallow graves suggesting that COVID-19 is sweeping inland India, where 70% of the 1.3 billion population lives. .

In the village of Nuran Khera in Haryana, residents are reluctant to be inoculated even though they said many households reported having a fever and dozens of people dying.

“Even after opening a vaccine center here, no one is ready to take it,” villager Rajesh Kumar, 45, told AFP.

“I won’t get the vaccine because it has a lot of side effects. People get sick after getting vaccinated.”

In other states, there have been reports of people jumping into rivers or fleeing into the woods just to flee mobile health equipment.

Hom Kumari, a health worker from the village of Bhatau Jamalpur in Uttar Pradesh, said it seemed impossible to convince some locals.

“What do we say to someone who says,‘ If I am destined to live, will I do so, even without the vaccine? “, He asked.

Sanitary facilities are also scarce and there are people who believe that going to one it is more dangerous than staying away.

“People who went to the hospital never came back,” another Nuran Khera villager, who gave his first name as Kuldip, told AFP.

Kumar said when his wife fell ill, a private clinic wanted 50,000 rupees ($ 700) in advance to treat her. A doctor at a public hospital said he would take her home.

“My neighbors started saying he has a crown. They were scared,” he added. “I took care of her and on the third day she got back on her feet.”

Communication key

The coronavirus has also dealt a severe blow to the Indian economy and villagers are often more concerned about reaching end and measure, said Rajib Dasgupta, a community health specialist.

“It is extremely difficult to communicate why vaccination is important until some of these afflictions are alleviated,” Dasgupta told AFP.

Experts say India must apply the lessons learned in its polio vaccination campaign in the 2000s to children under five.

The program was successful after the trust were involved in spreading the message to parents that inoculation was safe.

With a similar approach, Uttar Pradesh religious leaders were recently called upon to encourage their followers to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Navneet Singh, who oversees vaccination efforts in Jind district in Haryana, says face-to-face communication had helped ensure that almost 70% of the over-45s in Kalwa and neighboring villages had received at least one shot.

Kalwa health worker Sheela Devi said her “heart was beating” when her name was included in the vaccination list, but she calmed down when she saw the local doctor shooting her.

He now works every day in the village, going door to door trying to talk to people, with some success.

“Little by little they were convinced that even if they put on a crown after being vaccinated, they will not need hospitalization. They can take medication and recover at home,” the 45-year-old told AFP.

The death toll from the virus in India exceeds 300,000, the third highest in the world

© 2021 AFP

Citation: In rural India, fear of testing and vaccines hinders the fight against COVID-19 (2021, June 5), recovered on June 5, 2021 at -06-rural-india-vaccines-hampers-covid- .html

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