Health Clubs coming up at Panchayat level to check spread of COVID-19

Logistics, training to be provided by H&ME, RD Deptts

Govt to obtain weekly reports on all vital aspects

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 19: To prevent further spread of deadly Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the rural areas, the Government is going to set-up Health Clubs at the Panchayat level across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for screening and identification of suspects, pre-symptomatic/ asymptomatic and very mild cases of infection.
Moreover, these Health Clubs will oversee availability of masks, pulse oximeter, sodium hypochlorite solution and vital drugs besides addressing myths, misinformation and fake news on social media by verifying the facts from the Government agencies.
As the COVID-19 positive cases have started surfacing from the rural areas in large numbers, the Government has found it imperative to screen and identify as many as pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic and very mild cases of infection as possible and accordingly the concept of setting of Health Clubs has been evolved”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Even formal sanction for setting up of Health Clubs at Panchayat level in collaboration with the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to help in screening and identification of suspects for COVID-19 infection and their management has been accorded and guidelines on their operation and other vital aspects framed.
Sarpanch concerned would be the Chairman of the Health Club and Panchs, volunteers from the community, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) from the nearest Health Sub-Centre, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Anganwari Workers, Booth Level Workers, Self Health Groups and Panchayat Secretary would be the members of the Health Club. “About 8-14 members with representation of 50% females can constitute Health Club”, the Government said.
In order to achieve the objective behind the establishment of Health Clubs, the Government will ensure proper training to the teams of the Health Clubs through Health and Medical Education and Rural Development Departments so that they can easily monitor temperature and oxygen saturation with finger pulse oxymeters of persons under Quarantine/ Isolation, launch surveillance activities in coordination with Health Department authorities, ensure screening and surveillance of travellers arriving in the village and monitor home quarantine/ isolation.
Moreover, informing Block Medical Officer concerned of any suspected case of COVID-19, installation and use of Arogya Setu App and dissemination of 108 Ambulance Service will be part of role and responsibilities of the Health Clubs.
Each Health Club will be given logistics in the form of non-contact thermometer, finger pulse oximeter, triple layer masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. All these Health Clubs will work in close coordination of Block Medical Officers and will be linked with the nearest Health Sub-Centre for support and logistics. They will submit weekly reports of number of people screened, quarantined persons, isolated positive cases and referrals.
As per the guidelines, the Health Clubs will follow Central Government/UT Government advisories and disseminate the same through notice board or the social media/chat groups to the members. Moreover, they will maintain suitable linkages with nearest health facilities to handle any health contingencies such as any person developing symptoms of COVID-19.
Addressing myths and misinformation/fake news on the social media by verifying the facts from Government sources, addressing COVID-19 related stigmatization and overseeing availability of masks, pulse oximeter, sodium, hypochlorite solution, soaps and water supply in common areas and drugs like paracetamol and ORS are also the role and responsibilities of the Health Clubs.
These clubs will also have the responsibility of encouraging the residents to self-report symptoms and facilitate their testing, isolation and quarantine of contacts and providing counselling, guidance and support to COVID-19 affected individuals and families. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority and accordingly further advice will be made regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.
The guidelines also contain specific preventive measures for villages/towns according to which provisions will be made for display of posters on preventive measures about COVID-19 at entry points of villages as well as at Panchayat Ghars, sanitizer dispenser at entry points and in work areas, thermal screening of visitors/staff at entry points and only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed to enter the premises.
Moreover, vendors, household helps, car cleaners, delivery personnel etc will also undergo such screening daily and seating arrangement in common areas like parks etc will be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained, the guidelines said, adding there will be frequent sanitization of the common facilities and all points which come into human contact.
The Health Clubs will encourage all residents to inform them in case of any of them reports symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. “These clubs will be an important stakeholder in COVID-19 prevention, control and containment activities”, the Government said.