The women leading the fight against COVID-19 in Odisha

It was the first state to implement a complete lockdown of major cities including the capital Bhubaneswar on March 12 and subsequently of the entire state on March 24, a day before the national lockdown was announced.

  • 11th Apr 2020

Odisha has been proactive in fighting the coronavirus outbreak. It was the first state to implement a complete lockdown of major cities including the capital Bhubaneswar on March 12 and subsequently of the entire state on March 24, a day before the national lockdown was announced.

Now, not only is Odisha following Bhilwara's ‘ruthless containment’ model but it also became the first state in the country to extend the national lockdown to April 30.

In an exemplary display of grit and determination, women corona warriors are instrumental in Odisha's war against coronavirus. These range from women holding key positions in the government to countless ordinary citizens. While the women in power are making their presence felt through decision-making bodies; Asha, Anganwadi, and SHG (self-help groups) workers are working as the footsoldiers in this fight and have turned into the eyes, ears, and nose of the administration.

When the COVID-19 scare was at its peak in Odisha amid a surge in positive cases on a daily basis, the Mission Shakti department led by Sujata Kartikeyan took on the most significant decision -- initiating women SHGs across Odisha and starting the mass production of masks.

Around 605 SHGs have made 15 lakh cotton masks so far, helping protect the community and medics. More than 7,000 SHGs are working day and night to produce protection gear for those on the frontlines.

More than 6,753 women employees of Mission Shakti have been central in managing 5,247 Gram Panchayat-level free kitchen centers in collaboration with the local self-government of the state. They have worked to provide cooked meals to 3, 27,675 (3.27 lakh) people in 5,247 Gram Panchayats and 25,239 people in 108 urban local bodies.

Odisha's health machinery is supported by nurses, who are at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19. Besides thousands of auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), Asha workers and Anganwadi workers are visiting residents to check the health of peoples in far and interior places.

The key COVID-19 testing center (RMRC) in Bhubaneswar is headed by a woman scientist Sanghamitra Pati who with her team scientist Jyotirmayee Turuk is involved in aggressive testing to detect cases.

Premier health institutions in Odisha such as Aiims Bhubaneswar and SCB Medical College, Cuttack are headed by women -- doctors Geetanjali Batmanabane and Jayashree Mohanty. Both women were instrumental in converting Aiims and SCB into testing centers.

Moreover, 100 SHGs have donated Rs 11.86 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to help combat COVID-19.

Yamini Sarangi, a 2008 batch IAS officer is heading the Odisha State Medical Corporation (OSMC) as the MD in-charge for procurements of drugs and medical equipment. Recently, the OSMC had declared incentives for early delivery of medicines and medical equipment.

Anu Garg, the principal secretary of the state labor department has been tracing migrant labor from Odisha stuck across the country during the Lockdown and has been coordinating with her counterparts in other states to ensuring the wellbeing and safety of Odia migrant laborers across India.

Mission Director (NSM) National Health Mission bureaucrat Shalini Pandit has been in the core team of the Health Department working in tandem in contact tracing, sample collection and testing in the state.

Gajapati Police SP (IPS)Sarah Sharma’s efforts in implementing lockdown measures aggressively in the district and creating awareness to contain COVID-19 through singing has been praised across Odisha. Gajapati district has zero COVID-19 cases.

Sofia Firdous, a Cuttack-based philanthropist and daughter of CuttackMLA Md Moqueem has been distributing dry raion, packed food, face masks and sanitizers to 2,000 migrant laborers especially construction workers of other states who are stuck in Odisha.

Not to forget there are numerous faceless women corona warriors working in Sanitation, selling fruits and vegetables and other spheres in the fight against COVID-19.

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