Taking the Hiware Bazar model of Covid control to other agrarian areas

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on May 26, 2021

Representational image   -  THE HINDU

About 1,300 Gram Panchayats in the Ahmednagar district are making efforts to control the pandemic using this model

Hiware Bazar village in Ahmednagar has been known for the last 20 years as a model village for its water conservation efforts. Today it is taking a lead in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

And their model in controlling Covid-19 can be replicated in other rural and agriculture-dependent areas of Maharashtra, says CEO of the Zilla Parishad, Ahmednagar, Rajendra Kshirsagar. About 1,300 Gram Panchayats in the Ahmednagar district are making efforts to control the pandemic with the help of the model, he added.

Ahmednagar district with an area of 1,7048 sq km is the largest in the state. And it is primarily an agriculture hub.

Deputy Panchayat Chief, Popatrao Pawar of Hiware Bazar said, the village is just 16 km away from Ahmednagar town. Several villagers, work in the town or visit it for supplying milk to the local dairies. A number of the villagers caught infection due to their visits to the town. The first patient in the village infected with Covid was on March 20 (2021) , he was quarantined by keeping him at a house near his farm, he said.

Pawar is a well-known personality in the district and has been awarded Padmashree for his social work in 2020.

Village surveys

He said that the number kept rising and on April 2, the villagers decided to form committees for surveying the villages and identifying the affected persons in the families. The surveys were led by Gram Panchayats members, village-based NGOs and local youths. Oximeters and thermometers were purchased for the surveys.

The initial surveys led to the identification of 19 positive cases and 12 persons who had negative antigen test but were declared positive with the RTPCR test. For all such people and their families thedairy animals care, transporting milk to the town and carrying out agriculture work were done by local volunteers. Separate teams with four vehicles were created for carrying the patients to the local hospitals, Pawar said.

Eventually, 47 people suffered from the infections. Out of 47, eight had to be shifted to ICU with ventilator support. With such a scary scenario it was decided by all the villagers to control the virus by May 15, infected people voluntarily admitted themselves into quarantine facilities and followed all the social distancing norms strictly. The village is Covid free now, he said.

Kshirsagar points out that formation of volunteer teams at village level for the care of patients and their families, quarantining of farmers who supervised migrants farm, hiring of agricultural workers, taking care of the dairy animals of farmers who have been affected by Covid, had led to a major decline in positive cases in Hiware Bazar. The learnings from here have been passed on to the other Gram Panchayats through video-conferencing, he said.

He added that replicating such efforts in the district coupled with massive anti-body and RTPCR testing, has led to the fall in positivity rate to 10-11 per cent, which was 30 to 40 per cent in April. Daily new infections have also come down to less than 2,000, which had risen to almost 4,500 in April in the district.

Published on May 26, 2021

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