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WHO heaps praise on Odisha govt for effective fight against COVID, despite cyclone, migrant influx

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Oct 01: The Odisha government was heaped with praises by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The praise is noteworthy because the state saw an influx of migrants and also was also struck by cyclone Amphan during the crisis.

WHO heaps praise on Odisha govt for effective fight against COVID-19, despite cyclone, influx of mig

"From governance to community resilience: Odisha's response to COVID-19" published on WHO's website praises the Naveen Patnaik led Odisha government for the measures it took to contain the spread of the virus and also effectively manage the patients.

Ganjam Will Be Role Model of COVID management, says CM Naveen PatnaikGanjam Will Be Role Model of COVID management, says CM Naveen Patnaik

"Evacuating the stranded people safely while adhering to social distancing measures was challenging but the state's experience in disaster management helped in managing the situation. Effective governance in collaboration with Panchayati Raj Institutions and community-based response strategy enabled the resilient state to contain the spread of the virus," the article said.

While praising the state's COVID-19 management, the article also highlighted other key features that resulted in the lower number of cases. When the first case was reported on March 15, the state control rooms had been made operational. Capacity building of the district level health officials on preparedness and response activities, and public awareness campaigns on hand washing and respiratory etiquettes were already initiated.

Further the article hailed the decision to lay down a strong governance with an Empowered Group of Ministers for quick decision making. It also note that dedicated teams were set up to ensure social distancing, capacity building, isolation, treatment, and to run awareness campaigns.

Further the state also received praise from Dr. Nihar Ray, sub-regional team leader, Odisha, WHO Country Office for India for setting up the country's first 1,000 bed dedicated COVID-19 hospital with a record time frame of one week. with the Kalinga Institute of Medical Science and SUM Hospital established as model COVID hospitals, along with 30 dedicated district COVID hospitals (DCH) set up in all districts.

Dr. Ray said, "the COVID hospitals operating in partnership mode proved successful in managing the resources under the supervision of authorised medical officer (AMO) of the Government of Odisha."

Naveen Govt formulating new Health Policy and Vison 2025Naveen Govt formulating new Health Policy and Vison 2025

The health facilities were independently assessed by teams from WHO and United Nations. The results were shared with the authorities concerned, following which the best performing COVID hospitals like Ashwini COVID hospital in Cuttack was recognised for the state of the art quality care.

"By the end of May 2020, the state managed to build a robust infrastructure with a capacity of 22,340 beds in the dedicated COVID health facilities, with an occupancy rate of only 8.86 per cent as of June 28, 2020. The assessment of infection prevention and control (IPC) parameters of COVID and non-COVID hospitals helped in adherence to the IPC protocols in major health facilities," the report said.

The private sector was roped in to expand surveillance, track influenza like illness and and Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses (SARI). This helped in identifying and isolating risk groups. Further the government also deployed technicians and police personnel in high risk districts.

The state of the art telemedicine services at 41 health institutes to enable patients directly consult with the doctors, and leveraging digital application in monitoring the movement of cases and contacts, identification of containment zones and establishing dedicated call centres to address the public's queries were also undertaken.

The report also said, "the government adopted multi-pronged approaches such as monitoring of migrant's movement, issue of online e-pass, contact tracing, provision of food and accommodation, monitoring health and adherence to safety measures, etc. A dedicated online Grievance Redressal Portal exclusively for migrants was also set up. More than 18,000 temporary medical camps (TMCs) that also served as quarantine centres were set up to accommodate more than 800 000 migrants."

The decentralised approach that was adopted by the government, which included gram panchayats being entrusted with the responsibility of isolating suspect cases worked well in the state of Odisha. Under this the village chief was empowered to make decisions on the basis of area based needs.

A empowered joint team of public health experts, comprising officials from State Health Directorate, medical colleges, WHO, UN agencies, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) and "Mentoring Support to program" was initiated. This provided support to various districts in COVID-19 surveillance and containment strategy micro plan implementation and gap analysis.

Further financial help in the form of pension benefits that was provided four months in advance to older adults, disabled and widows under the national and state pension schemes. This was apart from the benefits doled out to encourage corona warriors, people in quarantine centres and vulnerable groups.

Chief Minister, Patnaik also announced a financial package of Rs 50 lakh for all health workers. State trained self-help groups under Mission Shakti through a cascade training model supported by UNICEF and UNFPA.

The report also said that as of June 28, the state has one of the lowest case fatality or death rates in comparison to the international and national figures.

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