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EM Exclusive, Nagaland

How Nagaland health workers are walking the extra mile

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By Purnungba Longkumer Updated: Jul 11, 2021 11:20 pm
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Villagers waiting in queue to get vaccinated at Hakkomute village, the last village at the Indo-Myanmar border, 95 km away from PHC Likhimro under Pungro sub-division, Kiphire district. 

Purnungba Longkumer
Dimapur, July 11 (EMN):
Vaccination drives and sensitisation programmes on Covid-19 especially in the rural areas of Nagaland have been ramped up in order to and fight the pandemic. However, the Health department is facing a lot of challenges during the vaccination drive to achieve their goals.

Medical Officer at Primary Health Care (PHC) Likimro, Kiphire district, Dr. Kedusato Kotso shared with Eastern Mirror that one of the many problems they face during vaccination drives is the poor road condition.

In order to visit some villages, they need Gypsy with special gear ‘or else it is difficult to travel in this kind of road condition’, he shared.

Kotso has been assigned to carry out vaccination drives and sensitisation programmes on Covid-19 under Pungro area in Kiphire district.

The doctor informed that while going for vaccination drive to Kaha village, they had to walk for two hours with all the medical equipment as there was no motorable road to reach the village.

Kotso said that he was stationed at Mimi area at the moment and is assigned to cover 13 villages under Pungro area where Hakkomute is the last village at the border area.

The medical officer informed that along with his medical team, they have visited different villages for four continuous days for sensitisation programmes on Covid-19 vaccination.

During the sensitisation programmes, he said they clear doubts and rumours regarding Covid-19 vaccination and added that in the beginning, some villages were scared of vaccination and did not attend the programmes. However, after clarifying their queries regarding the vaccination to the village chairman, they were able to win the trust of the people and get them vaccinated.

Kotso added that he was even infected by the Covid-19 virus while on duty at Kiphire District Hospital in May but due to vaccination, he recovered quickly.

Kotso informed that at seven villages, they were able to achieve above 60% vaccination and in two villages, they could vaccinate above 80%. He added that they have to give clarifications, especially about rumours spread on various social media platforms, and if he along with his medical team did not go there, ‘no one would have come forward for vaccination’.

When queried about the registration process of beneficiaries, the medical officer informed that due to network problem, they take their mobile number and Aadhaar number and for those who do not have Aadhaar card, they collect the details of their bank passbook or voter ID; and after reaching Mimi village they upload their details. He added that they upload their details till 11 to 12 pm.

Kotso informed that they try to cover two to three villages per day for vaccination and his team consists of two nurses, one medical attendant and one driver. He shared that the villagers were kind enough to arrange food for them as they informed beforehand that they would be visiting their village.

The medical officer added that if they were not informed beforehand, almost all the villagers go to their fields and as a result they would miss out on the vaccination drive.

Kotso informed that advance preparation is important during the vaccination drive as it is about 95 km from PHC Likimro to reach the last village, and the distance is ‘quite far’ especially with bad road conditions.

He added that they were planning to go for vaccination drives again in the coming week to all the villages and expressed hope that they would be able to achieve 100% vaccination.

Meanwhile, Medical Officer of Community Health Centre (CHC) Mangkolemba, Mokokchung district Dr. Jetilo Magh said that due to social media, people were spreading rumours without knowing the truth and were more interested in rumours than the benefits of vaccines.

Magh added that after clarifying all the rumours, doubt and myths people agreed to be vaccinated but there were still some individuals who believed more in social media rather than the doctors.

The medical officer informed that they were trying to achieve 100% vaccination in Mangkolemba. He said that one must register online first for vaccination but everyone does not own a smartphone therefore it also affects the vaccination drive.

He added that there were spot registrations for some cases but there are only 100 slots, and while waiting for their turn for vaccination, they get discouraged and give up.

One eye opener for the people in Mangkolemba was when seven medical staff tested positive for Covid-19 this month. However, everyone was asymptomatic and recovered very quickly without any complication, following which people started to get vaccinated, he said.

The medical officer informed that their work schedule starts from morning and ends at around 6 to 7 pm. He added that they were planning to cover nine wards in Mangkolemba by continuing the vaccination drive from July 15 to the 23rd; they have achieved 65% vaccination so far and are planning to achieve 100% vaccination within this month.

Medical Officer of Primary Health Care (PHC) Phomching, Dr Chenjei Jorlyms shared with this newspaper that people were still hesitant to get vaccinated. He said that the roads are in poor conditions, and they have to plan properly beforehand to reach five villages under his block.

Furthermore, some villages have no network connection and therefore, they have to first search a location where the network is available for spot registration. Jorlyms added that due to inclement weather conditions, it has become even more difficult to navigate some villages for vaccination.

The medical officer informed their team members consist of five members and added he was assigned to carry out vaccination drives and sensitisation programmes on Covid-19 in 14 villages. According to Jorlyms, they were able to achieve around 50% vaccination in head count.

He said that people were ignorant and innocent; and their minds were polluted by rumours and wrong information through various social media and therefore, they were hesitant to take the vaccine.

He added that the leaders of villagers were important as they are able to make the villagers understand the benefits of vaccination and added that sensitisation programmes were important but it would be an added advantage if village leaders led the way and motivated the villagers to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Community Health Officer, Esther who is posted at Tssori Health and Wellness Centre (Wokha district), which is near Assam border, said that vaccination and sensitisation at remote villages was not an easy task but ‘we have to provide our services as health care workers’.

Esther informed that they collect the vaccines from Bhandari Community Health Centre, which is the nearest cold chain point.

‘It is difficult to travel to these villages in the rainy season as the vehicles are unable to ply due to deplorable road conditions,’ she shared. Esther informed that they have to travel through Assam to reach some of these villages and sometimes they don’t get transportation due to Assam bandh. Thus, the only means to reach these villages is to walk for hours, she added.

Esther said that people at these remote villages were superstitious and they didn’t believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine. They had earlier conducted Covid vaccine awareness programmes as per the directive received from the medical directorate but fake rumours and their orthodox mindset made it difficult to convince them, she said.

The health officer shared that the network facility was poor and they mostly do online registration for the beneficiaries when the network is good and tell them to keep records of their reference ID number, which they later use to register on the vaccine portal.

When asked if she worries about getting infected with Covid-19 during the vaccination drive, Esther informed that she does get worried sometimes but as she has taken both the doses of vaccine, it has given her some assurance on her safety and added that the healthcare workers have do their part to vaccinate people so that herd immunity is achieved.

Esther added that they were also well trained by the Health department beforehand for precautions and they adhere to it. The district Health department was fully supporting them and they would contact them if they faced any challenges during vaccination, she added.

Furthermore, Ester informed that they create session sites for vaccination, collect the beneficiary list beforehand, collect vaccines from cold chain points and coordinate with village councils for the vaccination drive, which takes time sometimes as they have to go door-to-door for vaccination. They have to walk for miles as houses in these villages are not close by, she added.

The health officer shared that it was important to make people aware about the possible side effects after vaccination; fever and body ache are common after vaccination and people need not worry about it.

‘It is also important to perform hand washing and wear a mask regularly. Nobody is safe until everybody is safe. Fake news and misinformation on vaccines is creating a roadblock for vaccination drives,’ she advised.

The community health officer added that the main problems or challenges they faced were transportation, very poor road conditions, hesitancy from the people for vaccines, and poor network connection.

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By Purnungba Longkumer Updated: Jul 11, 2021 11:20:42 pm