Pune: Municipality gets helping hand from NGOs in COVID-19 fight

Organisations such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghatana Janklayan Samiti and Bhartiya Jain Sanghatana are helping the municipal administrations in testing, screening and cremation

Pune, Maharashtra, NGOs, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown, Lockdown 4.0, testing, screening
India as on June 5 had the nationwide infection tally to 2,26,770 and the death toll to 6,348. Photo: Suhruda Lele

Right from screening and testing to cremation of the COVID-19 patients, many NGOs in Pune, one of the biggest coronavirus hotspots in the country, have come forward to help the municipal corporation.

Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Shekhar Gaikwad said, “Taking maximum possible help from various NGOs in these trying times is the first thing on a central government’s agenda.”

Recently, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghatana (RSS) Janklayan Samiti in the city conducted the screening and survey of individuals living in containment zones.

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Volunteers preparing themselves before heading for survey and screening in containment zones in the Pune city. photo Suhruda Lele

Around 1.02 lakh people residing at 168 hotspots were surveyed by the team of 1,016 volunteers and 365 doctors, informed Ravindra Wanjarwadkar of RSS. Following the survey, a total of 1,963 patients were referred to the municipal corporation.

He said, “Trained, equipped and secured volunteering was our mantra. This was strictly followed. All the volunteers were provided with PPEs and also all the precautions were taken during the activity.”

He was glad to express that not even a single volunteer tested positive even after taking such a risk of working in COVID-19 hotspot for days.

Related news: NGOs in Pune distribute books, food to stranded students amid lockdown

Bhartiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) is another such organization that helped municipal administration in screening and testing COVID-19 patients.

Swab collection center in Yerwada, Pune by BJS.

PMC has allowed BJS to conduct COVID-19 testing via a private lab since May 14 in the Yerwada area. The center has collected 1,890 samples and 83 were tested positive as on May 23. The center will be operational for the next few days until the area becomes a non-containment zone, informed BJS coordinator Rahul Dagaliya.

“We have screened around 5 lakh persons from different parts of the city as on date. Out of which 6892 suspected patients were referred to the administration while 261 of them had tested positive,” Dagaliya told The Federal.

Reiterating the involvement of NGOs and how they’ve extended a helping hand, PMC commissioner Gaikwad said, “The only thing is that these NGOs should take all the precautions while working in containment zones or any other risk areas. That is enough. Meanwhile, RSS and BJS had doctors, ambulances, and all the other resources with them which had turned out to be extra helpful for us.”

Related news: Social distancing not a choice in Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum

BJS is currently operating about 100 ambulances in the city.

“Apart from these two biggies, there are around 100 NGOs who are tirelessly working with us. Some are distributing food to the migrant camps while some provide PPEs and financial assistance for the medical equipment. Also, there are two local NGOs who are taking care of cremation/burial of the COVID-19 patients in the city,” said Gaikwad.

Volunteers conducting screening in containment zone areas in Pune city. Photo Avanee Pendse

While explaining her experience as a student volunteer for the initiative by RSS, Avanee Pendse told The Federal, “It was a seven-day camp for every volunteer. The team of three including a doctor each was assigned for the survey. Also, we would have one additional volunteer from the locality to guide us through the area since most of these hotspots were slums or extremely congested localities of the city.”

All the volunteers would be equipped with medical PPEs and medicines before entering the containment zone. One person would screen the patient while the other would file the information on the survey. The third volunteer would distribute masks and medicines to the locals, she added.

Volunteers conducting screening in containment zone areas in Pune city. Photo Avanee Pendse

Another volunteer and a CA student, Suhruda Lele, explained the arrangements in the residential camp.

She said, “The camp had two divisions. For the first three days, a volunteer would go on field for the survey and screening purposes. Next four days, the volunteer would be quarantined in the hostel facility itself. And, on the seventh day, they would be relieved after COVID-19 test.”

Suhruda said that when the ambulance entered the area people immediately scattered as if they were some attackers. But later, once they know why they were there, they would cooperate with them.

Families of both of the volunteers supported their move, said Avanee and Suhruda.

Related news: From vegetable kits to ration coupons: Pune slum keeps virus at bay

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