COVID-19 creates a special challenge for rural and remote parts of India, considering the poor testing services, surveillance system and above all poor medical care including shortages in facilities, adequate medical staff and equipment. In the last 7 – 8 months, Dr. Johnny and his team at Christian Hospital, Bissamcuttack had to re-set their entire lives to respond to COVID and it’s implications in a 200-bedded hospital, situated in a remote place. How does one re-organise a hospital with limited resources to be able to sustain the regular work of conducting deliveries and doing emergency surgeries, while creating a parallel response to the pandemic, and keeping the staff safe and motivated at the same time? Do you listen to the WHO or your own common sense? Does “jugaad” work in such a crisis situation? This lecture is about a frontline unit fighting the war on the pandemic.
Dr Johnny Oommen has lived and worked at the Christian Hospital, Bissamcuttack (CHB) in south Odisha for close to 30 years. He and the MITRA Team of CHB, work with the people of 53 predominantly tribal villages towards the dream of Health and Education For All; with Economic Security and Dignity. The work has involved primary health care, a people’s movement against malaria, setting up and running an Adivasi school, Adding Quality to Education in government schools through community effort and so on.