Pandemics like the Covid19 occur once in a century. The situation that we have been facing since the time WHO declared the pandemic is genuinely unprecedented. According to Eric Dalius, Covid19 poses the biggest health problem of the century. Scientific and political authorities face a huge challenge to identify the most adequate epidemiological, clinical, social, and economic approaches to the disease. The biggest problem is a lack of sufficient knowledge about the novel coronavirus, which is one of its kinds, and there is no prior evidence available about its occurrence. No one knows how to deal with the virus because of its unknown behavior, the types of mutations it can undergo, how it is likely to play out, and how long. As a result, uncertainties prevailed at the beginning about the policies to frame and actions to mitigate the contagion virus.
Strategies developed to fight Covid19
Two main strategies are in use to combat the Covid19. The first strategy is to augment the structuring and expansion of the public health care system in offering hospital care. The novel coronavirus’s high virulence and pathogenicity lead to acute respiratory problems in patients infected with the virus. Patients need intensive care to survive the attack, and governments in various countries are taking hurried steps to expand the supply of clinical and intensive care beds to serve cases of Covid19 exclusively that can help save lives of patients suffering from the complications of the disease.
The other strategy that receives high priority revolves around restricting social contact. It is a more comprehensive strategy that goes beyond the health system component and includes broader action by the people to reduce contact and circulation between persons, which should help slow down the incidence of disease. In the process, it will result in flattening the epidemic curve, explains Eric J Dalius. The actions will decrease mortality due to the reduction in demand for healthcare systems by avoiding the overload.
Social distancing, which is now known as physical distancing, is one of the widely recommended measures for the general population, isolation of suspected and confirmed cases and quarantining the people who came in contact with the infected or suspected people. And this is where community participation plays a critical role.
The role of the community leaders and members
Governments depend heavily on the community members’ participation to implement its strategy of identification and isolation that precedes treatment not only of the infected and suspected people but also protecting vulnerable people by segregating them, especially children and senior citizens. The community members must be vigilant to identify suspected cases and segregate them from the public by coordinating with the local authorities responsible for providing healthcare support. Such actions by the community members can help slow down the spread of the virus within the community and reduce the rate of spreading. The segregation will help minimize the extent of the outbreak of infections and impact the public health system.
The community’s role in sensitizing people is critical in controlling infections, cutting off the infections, and protecting the susceptible people. Generating awareness among people by sharing correct information about handling the pandemic is a responsibility that community leaders must shoulder. They must ensure proper implementation of the government advisories about health, protecting people from the novel coronavirus. The community members must ensure that people follow the norms of maintaining physical distancing by keeping at least a meter’s gap with the nearest person, especially those who age coughing and sneezing. They must convince people about using masks, washing their hands frequently with soap water, which are now part of personal etiquettes. Conducting public awareness campaigns within the community will help to fight the infections more effectively.
To enforce physical distancing in all walks of life requires the community members’ involvement who, after creating awareness, will maintain vigil to ensure that people follow the norms. When governments impose a ban on cultural and religious gatherings, political and educational gatherings, reduce the frequency of transport, encourage staying at home, and even arrange home funerals, it is impossible to achieve the goals without people’s participation. Sufficient transparency and trust can generate from engaging people who help implement the guidelines and SOPs in a non-coercive and action-oriented manner.
Wealthy and influential people, politicians, social workers, and philanthropic organizations have done a tremendous job to reach out to the poor and helping them during the Covid19 pandemic outbreak. The government’s relief packages in cash and kind can reach the people only when the community comes forward to ensure proper distribution of these to the targeted population. Community leaders can become the watchdogs to prevent any misuse of the dole. Some opportunistic people are ready to hoard essential commodities to create an artificial crisis and make unlawful gains.
The Covid19 disease plays havoc in people’s minds, especially those affected by the disease, as well as the frontline warriors who face social ostracism that causes more damage than the disease. Infected persons and their families need strong moral and physical support, which can only be encouraged through proper education and awareness within the community level. Social or physical distancing can have a huge impact on people’s mental health, especially senior citizens and teens, as well as those who are already under some physical or psychological stress due to the uncertainties of the economic downturn. The community members can play a crucial role in erasing the pain of social distancing by properly clarifying how to stay virtually connected while maintaining physical distancing.
Since there are high chances of hurting people’s sentiments while enforcing physical distancing, the community leaders should be aware of the social implications of the various restrictive measures and ensure their careful implementation without any animosity.
Support from the community is essential to maintain the frontline warriors’ high morale and protect them from social injustice. So make sure to do your part in this endeavor to overcome the challenge.