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In rural India, fear of tests and vaccines hinders the fight against Covid-19 | India News


KALWA: When health worker Neelam Kumari knocks on doors in Indian villages, the occupants sometimes run out the back, terrified that she wants to vaccinate them against Covid-19.
With the recent devastating wave of viruses from India subsiding in cities, the deadly pandemic is ravaging the vast rural interior ravaged by poverty. But here ignorance and fear reign.
“A lot of people in my village don’t want to get vaccinated. They fear they will die if they take it,” Kumari told AFP in Dhatrath, a collection of two-story buildings in Haryana state with buffalo roaming the streets. .
“One of the villagers was so angry that he hit a (health) worker who was trying to convince him to get vaccinated.”
Only 15 percent of people in rural areas, compared to 30 percent in towns and cities, have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, although two-thirds of cases are reported in the countryside, according to an analysis. by The Hindu. daily.
Rumors are shared online or spread through messaging apps like WhatsApp. Fears of 5G triggering Covid-19 led to mobile towers being attacked in Haryana.
“People don’t even step up to get tested because they think the government will declare them positive for Covid even if it isn’t,” Shoeb Ali, a doctor from the village of Miyaganj, in the northern state of Miyaganj, told AFP. Uttar Pradesh.
– ‘Deaths after shooting’: this fear prevails despite the sight of bodies dumped in rivers and hundreds of shallow graves, suggesting that Covid-19 is sweeping the interior of India, where 70 percent live percent of the 1,300 million inhabitants.
In the village of Nuran Khera in Haryana, residents are reluctant to get vaccinated even though they said many households reported having a fever and dozens of people dying.
“Even after opening a vaccine center here, nobody is ready to take it,” villager Rajesh Kumar, 45, told AFP.
“I will not take the vaccine because it has a lot of side effects. People get sick after receiving the vaccines.”
In other states, reports have emerged of people jumping into rivers or fleeing into forests only to escape mobile health teams.
Hom Kumari, a health worker in the village of Bhatau Jamalpur in Uttar Pradesh, said that some locals seemed impossible to convince.
“What do we say to someone who says, ‘If I’m destined to live, I will, even without the vaccine’?” She asked.
Health facilities are also few and far between and some people believe that going to a public hospital 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 that when his wife fell ill, a private clinic wanted 50,000 rupees ($ 700) in advance to treat her. A doctor from a public hospital said to take her home.
“My neighbors began to say that he has a crown. They were scared,” he added. “I took care of her and on the third day she recovered.”
– Communication key: The coronavirus has also dealt a severe blow to the Indian economy, and villagers are often more concerned about making ends meet, said community health specialist Rajib Dasgupta.
“It is extremely difficult to communicate why vaccination is important until some of those distressing conditions are alleviated,” Dasgupta told AFP.
Experts say India needs to apply the lessons learned from its polio vaccination campaign in the 2000s of children under five years of age.
The program was successful after trusted community leaders participated to spread the message to parents that vaccination was safe.
Using a similar approach, religious leaders in Uttar Pradesh were recently called in to encourage their followers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Navneet Singh, who oversees immunization efforts in Haryana’s Jind district, says face-to-face communication helped ensure that nearly 70 percent of those over 45 in Kalwa and neighboring villages have received at least one vaccine. .
Kalwa’s health worker, Sheela Devi, said her “heart was pounding” when her name was put on the vaccination list, but was reassured when she saw the local doctor administer the vaccine.
Now he works every day in the village, going door to door trying to convince people, with some success.
“Little by little they were convinced that even if they contract corona after being vaccinated, they will not need hospitalization. They can take medicine and recover at home,” the 45-year-old man told AFP.
grk-abh-str / stu / mtp

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