A Kerala village joins doctors' collective to address post-Covid complications

Pattithara panchayat president Balan P (second from left) and his colleagues with Dr Jayasoorya of DSJ and Sarath of Thrithala Together (third and fourth from left). Photo: Special arrangement

A gram panchayat in Kerala has joined hands with a doctors' collective to address the health crisis relating to post-Covid complications which loom large on its population even after the intensity of the pandemic situation has faded.

Doctors for Social Justice, a group of healthcare professionals, has launched the project called 'Snehasparsham' in Pattithara panchayat of Palakkad district. The project, which aims to sensitise people about how to handle post-Covid complications and prepare a data-based action plan, is supported by Thrithala Together, a local collective led by former MLA VT Balram.

The project launched in June will complete in a phased manner. In the first phase, data were collected from people in the panchayat who had contracted Covid. In the next phase, a series of webinars are being conducted for ASHA workers and junior health inspectors who in turn will disseminate the knowledge they gained to the people. After the webinars, medical camps will be held online for the needy. A report will be prepared based on the inputs collected at various stages of the programme and it will be submitted to the state and central governments as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“It has been years since the breakout of chikungunya in Kerala. However, some people still suffer from post-infection complications. It is in this backdrop that we should look at post-Covid complications also. Several people who recovered from Covid are suffering from a series of health issues including breathing difficulties, blood clotting, strokes, muscle and joint pains and palpitation. There are also psychiatric issues which are often unaddressed. We have launched the programme to understand the situation better and help the people overcome the difficulties. Pattithara panchayat was selected for the study as from multiple sources we learned that the place has many people suffering from post-Covid issues,” Dr Jayasoorya PG, general secretary, Doctors for Social Justice, told Onmanorama.

Two webinars in the series have already been held. Dr PS Shajahan, professor, Pulmonary Medicine, Government TD Medical College, Alappuzha; and noted paediatrician Dr Soumya Sarin led them. Dr Jayasoorya and Dr Ligin SP are scheduled to address the next meets. Citing a rough estimate that one in five persons suffer from post-Covid issues, Dr Shajahan said it is going to be one of the major public health issues. “Most patients do not recognise it and fail to receive early interventions and treatment. Though a large number of the post-Covid population have some symptoms, only a few require drug treatment. Most require only reassurance and psychological support. Costly drugs are not the answer to post-Covid issues. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are important,” the senior pulmonologist said, hailing the initiative.

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