The cities, all over the world, have much better health facilities. But the rural areas, particularly in countries like ours, suffer from not only lack of proper infrastructure, but also from proper communications.
In Bengal, almost in every district, some people have come up to establish a communication network to help covid-19 patients in various ways. Most of them are college students who have gone back to their homes as colleges are closed. Some of them are using the technological know-how they learned in Kolkata.
In Cooch Bihar, a northern region at the foothills of the Himalayas one such group of students has opened a website called ‘Covid helpline Cob database’. This website is helping people in getting an ambulance, medicine, admission in hospitals, supply of food, water, blood plasma, and oxygen. It is also providing help for registration for vaccination or providing telemedicine.
One of the many young men and women associated with this effort is Ratul Tarafdar. He was associated with a covid helpline while studying in a college in Kolkata. He says he has seen how the crisis unfolded in Kolkata and decided to save his district from facing a similar situation. And now an increasing number of people are coming up to join the effort.
This is not an example of a one-off effort. In various districts, people are coming up with similar efforts. Debasish Maiti, a lecturer of a district college in Medinipur district, says, “Government websites are slow in updating information, and under such circumstances these private efforts are laudable. Getting proper information is the most important thing for the rural people. They are providing just that. It will save many lives, as otherwise, people would have died due to lack of proper help.”
Jyotirmoy Das, a 65-year old resident of Siuri of Birbhum district, has survived a severe coronavirus attack as he got oxygen on time thanks to such a website. His son Suman says that these websites and the contact numbers are given there are helping many people to get some urgently needed help in time of crisis.
The health department of the state is now mulling the idea of coordinating with such websites and organisations running those. A health officer admits in private that the communication from the government level is not adequate in the rural areas. This younger generation using the net as a tool for opening such communication is working as real ‘covid warriors’, admits the officer.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)