With a view to strengthening the rural health system on Covid treatment, the health department in South Dinajpur has decided to engage quacks or ‘rural health service providers’ as ‘Informal Healthcare Workers.’ Officials have said that the people in the rural areas are still not aware of Covid19 and that they often try to avoid tests and the medical process.

“As a result, the rate of infection is increasing due to lack of proper treatment and counseling,” an official said. “At the same time, people in the rural areas have also started dying after contracting the virus. To create awareness among villagers and to have early detection of the infection, the health department has started imparting training to Informal Healthcare Workers,” the official added.

According to the district health department, 1416 such quacks have already been trained and deployed in the rural areas for the treatment of Covid patients and those who display Covid symptoms.

“This is all meant to start treatment of Covid patients and to detect the virus early,” a source said. The health department said this will help provide proper treatment and counselling to villagers in the early stages. “The Informal healthcare workers will basically identify Covid orona patients in rural areas and provide them proper advice. If any person has symptoms of Covid-19, he/she should be first given first aid and advised to go for a swab test, if necessary,” the official said.

According to the district health department, there are 2351 quacks in the district and most of them live in rural areas and are popular among the villagers. People depend on the quacks for all their medical needs in most of the villages.

Last week, officials of the district health department provided training in the block level. The special tanning was given to 1416 rural healthcare workers in the district in different steps.

“Basically, they will provide medicines according to the protocol of the health department. If the patient develops physical problems, abdominal pain, cough or fever etc, the quack will advise the patient to go for Covid tests. The quacks will also keep in touch with all the ASHA and ANM staff in the village,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Sukumar Dey said.

“In most cases, there is no treatment for common fever, cold and cough. Also, many walk around without masks. As a result, the second wave of coronavirus has infected rural areas, while some deaths have also been reported. The district health department is concerned about the same. We hope the problems in rural areas can be solved through this,” he added.