2nd April – Weekly Update on COVID19 situation

The update has 5 parts: 1. Making Sense of the numbers:: Where are we in the epidemic curve 2. The lock-down and its sheer brutality 3. Do lock-downs work? 4. Health system preparedness 5. The peoples movement response Part 5. The Response from Peoples Movements and Communities: 1. This week has also seen the build-up on a major response across people’s health movements, people’s science movements, women’s organizations, trade unions and associations of working people, civil society organizations and community based organizations. These organizations have also sought and got support from a number of progressive intellectuals and scientists and public health experts. 2. The JSA and the AIPSN have been holding consultation on Skype and have tried to understand the developments, critically review and in consultation with domain experts brought out a number of papers and statements that can inform their own membership and the general public. They have also articulated demands for better COVID 19 control and for better mitigation of the social and economic costs of the lock down through a charter of demands and a number of press releases and petitions to the government. 3. In addition to these statement, the JSA and AIPSN have launched campaigns to inform its own members and the general public of the dangers from this epidemic, how to keep the community, themselves and the public safe and to counter fake news, stigmatization and victim blaming messages that emanate both from sections of the government and communities. (See PHM Advisory for Families and Communities, and PHM FAQs on the COVID 19 pandemic (http://phmindia.org/2020/03/28/advisory-for-workers-cleaning-hands-in-low-resource-settings-and-protection-in-crowded-places/ ). There are also short videos and WhatsApp posters that are available.) 4. Because of the lock down, extensive field level mobilization and community support action has not been possible, though in many states, organization who are part of this network are engaged in organizing community kitchens. Once the lockdown lifts, a major effort at social bonding and mobilization to counter hate campaigns, and provide support to affected families and communities, is being planned. 5. We would be sending this weekly update along with a special press release that would  a) demand a review of the lockdown and an phased withdrawal of the same; b) an acceleration of work in preparing the health systems for the epidemic through a more comprehensive approach and c) a call for much more participatory and less authoritarian approach to controlling and mitigating this pandemic.

On the Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) for Healthcare Workers in the Light of Increasing Numbers of COVID-19 Patients

The JSA and AIPSN draw the attention of the public and the media to the major crisis that has developed in health worker safety due to the lack of PPEs. Not only will the healthcare staff be at higher risk of getting the infection, widespread infection in healthstaff would sharply decrease the capacity of the country to delivery health care services in both the public and private sector.  To increase production of PPE and ensure safety of healthcare workers, we make the following demands from the government:  1. Urgently ensure availability and free supply of PPE to all health workers. directly or indirectly providing care for COVID 19 patients at per their level of risk.  Towards this end government should revisit its specification and guidelines for use.  2. Private hospitals should be directed to follow the guidelines and not put their staff at risk. 3. Include all health workers seeing general outpatients as also at higher risk due to unidentified mild and moderate and even asymptomatic cases in circulation and develop recommendations on PPE for them. 4. Scale-up the production of PPEs within the country. Government should identify the products that are not currently manufactured in India and within a short deadline seek proposals and technically and financially support the manufacturing of those components in a decentralised manner so all states have at least one manufacturing unit.  5. In order to enhance the number of manufactures, government should publish the designs and blue prints along with the specifications and  convert largescale apparel production firms to start the immediate production of PPE components.  6. In order to expedite the procurement and supply of PPE equipment, government should involve more public sector establishments.  Currently, the government has given HLL Lifecare Limited, a government-owned company, rights for procurement of PPE. Approval for more public sector institutions in the procurement would speed up the procurement and supply.  7. issue guideline for the appropriate disposal of PPEs used by health workers as well as face masks that public use  8. Ensure transparency with regard to the procurement prices and suppliers and the number of procurement.   9. Set up an Expert Committee to establish PPE requirement specifications as well as guideline for use in the Indian context. Its role should include constant revision in light of new and emerging data.

Advisory to State and Central Governments – On strengthening health systems to manage the COVID 19 pandemic

The letter written on behalf of JSA and AIPSN to Secretary, Dept of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of India contains the "Advisory to State and Central Governments - On strengthening health systems to manage the COVID 19 pandemic". It provides a detailed note prepared in a participatory and consultative manner by a number of organizations and concerned citizens who are part of our network of civil society organizations and peoples movements.... We note that the country is going through a lock-down which has brought immense hardships to the majority of the people. The only justification for such suffering is to give time to the health systems to prepare for the oncoming epidemic.  We have noted the significant number of measures that government has announced to step up the supply of testing kits, and PPE and ventilators, but we are worried that it would be little and late. From our interaction at state level, we are deeply concerned that the preparations are patchy, slow, and selective. In our enclosed advisory, we have put together the very many aspects on which all state governments and the state governments needs to take immediate action. We demand that urgent action be taken on each and every one of these suggestions. We also call on you to include representatives of our organizations in monitoring the pace and comprehensiveness and quality of preparation. We are also releasing this statement to the media so that they can also be informed on what, in our view, requires to be done. This would promote early identification of gaps and this would strengthen the effort at preparation. We are also issuing an advisory to people and communities on what they require to do to protect themselves and to be of assistance to frontline staff of the department and all others who are working in partnership to help combat this epidemic. We would also be working to ensure social solidarity in this time of crisis. The letter concludes saying "The State and district level units of peoples health movements and peoples science movements and of a wide variety of civil society organizations and trade unions and workers associations stand ready to help the government and communities in combatting this pandemic and the humanitarian crisis that both the pandemic and measures to contain it have led to. The government must make use of this resource."

Essential Health Services cannot be suspended during the lockdown

Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and All India Peoples Science Network express their deep concern over the poorly implemented lockdown, especially the closing of regular clinical services in public hospitals // English Hindi Tamil versions available // ... Even as this report was ready for release we have reports of a huge “distress reverse migration” within the nation. Individuals and families stranded in cities without work, food, housing or security, are forced to trek back home to their distant villages, in the hot sun with no support of food, water, shade or rest, or hitching rides in crowded passing trucks at considerable expense, and subject to hostile action by authorities on the way intent only on imposing the lockdown. Those migrant, unorganized sector and daily wage workers who have been left behind in metros, cities and towns because of the lockdown with no transport available to their native villages/towns, find themselves without income, shelter, and even food, with state governments struggling to cope with the problem in overcrowded relief camps, again exposing these workers to infection. Even before the nationwide lockdown was imposed, anticipating this move and in view of the severe slowdown of economic activity due to industry closures, distancing or other measures, migrant labour and their families were fleeing metros and cities in huge numbers by long, overcrowded train or bus journeys, exposing themselves and others to infection, paying exorbitant amounts for last-mile journeys, and now face hostility, uncertain futures and potential spread of the Covid19 virus in their native villages and towns with already poor health care. This is a huge humanitarian crisis in the making.  With respect to lock-downs, we call on the government to urgently consider the following 7 measures proposed here.

Grid-Authorities-Prepare-for-Unprecedented-Plunge-and-Surge-Event

With the thorough preparations that grid authorities have made, the grid will most probably survive. But does not the Modi government have better things to do during this crisis than delivering shocks to the grid? Prabir Purkayastha. 5 Apr 2020

Coronavirus Lockdown Could Lead to Famine, Possibly Worse

Clearly, more than half of the Indian population would not be able to stay at home for long. Compensating them would cost around Rs 3 lakh crore or 1.5% of our current GDP. Does this Government have the will?

Covid-19 Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to all Societies

Quick and widespread testing and quarantine will help tackle the spread of Covid-19, not ultra-nationalism or hyper-capitalism.

What the Government must do on COVID19 ?

A charter of demands by the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and All India People’s Science Network published in scroll.in https://scroll.in/article/956326/13-demands-what-the-government-must-do-to-tackle-coronavirus-in-india

More than 150 Scientists Appeal to Citizens

The upcoming election is a crucial one. It asks for a re-affirmation of the most fundamental guarantees our Constitution gives us: equal rights to faith or lack thereof; culture; language; association; personal liberty and freedom of expression. These rights, even as they accrue to each of us individually, can only exist if they accrue to all Indian citizens — without partiality or discrimination.To defend these rights, we must reject those who lynch or assault people, those who discriminate against people because of religion, caste, gender, language or region. Again, we must reject those who encourage such practices. We cannot endorse a politics that divides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society — women, dalits, adivasis, religious minorities, the persons with disabilities or the poor. Diversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.

Peoples Health manifesto-2019 by Jan Swasthiya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement India)

As the General Elections-2019 are fast approaching, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan activists are pushing the political structures to address the issues plaguing people’s health by releasing a ‘People’s Health Manifesto-2019’The manifesto demands increasing the public expenditure on health to 3.5 per cent of the GDP in the short-term and absorbing the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme—based on the discredited ‘insurance model’—under a strengthened, well-funded public health system and a right to health act which includes a patients charter. The People’s Health Manifesto-2019 in English and Hindi are given here

Ask How Campaign 2019

The Ask How campaign brings awareness to people about the rights that are enshrined in our constitution and how these constitutional rights are to be safeguarded from fundamentalist and neoliberal onslaught. Visit https://aipsn.in and take the pledge