Floods, which are a recurring phenomenon in the northeast Indian state of Assam, have hit the state heavily this year but healthcare workers have risen to the occasion serving the people by battling both flood and novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The floods have affected around 2.9 million people across 26 districts covering about 80 percent of Assam’s total area (till July 24). As many as 103 people have died and the state is staring at massive crops, livestock, and infrastructure losses.
The challenge before the government and people of Assam this year is acute because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has affected over 30,000 people in the state so far while 88 people have died from the viral disease.
Irrespective of inundation-related challenges, healthcare workers are wading through floodwaters to check on people stranded in submerged villages while others are working feverishly in relief camps even as convincing those affected to take refuge in relief camps becomes an additional challenge.
Bonti Pothari, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker from Missamora in Majuli district observed that this year’s flood is more severe than last year. “Many people in our area have not gone to relief camps despite their villages getting inundated. They are not ready to leave their livestock behind which is their main asset. We visit those places on boats and supply people with medicines,” she said.
Many are also not going to relief camps because of the pandemic. The state has set up over 450 relief camps where over 45,000 people are sheltering. Dhira Baishya, ASHA supervisor from Matia in Goalpara district said: “Though there is no active COVID-19 case in my area at present, many people from the flood-affected villages here are not coming to the relief camp this year.”
The real challenge for healthcare workers comes after the floodwaters start receding and waterborne diseases take over. Baishya said “To make matters worse, skin...