Jab shortage, no mobile network hamper vaccination drive in UP tribal areas
Of the total population of around 4,500 in Bankati gram panchayat of Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, only 350 have taken the anti-Covid-19 vaccine jabs so far, records with the health department show.
It's not just superstitions and myths that are slowing down the vaccination drive. Health workers say vaccine shortage, absence of mobile network and tough topographical conditions in remote villages of Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district are equally obstructive to their cause.
Jab shortage in UP Tribal areas:
Of the total population of around 4,500 in Bankati gram panchayat of Kheri, only 350 have taken the anti-Covid-19 vaccine jabs so far, records with the health department show.
The situation is similar in Lakhimpur Kheri's Palia block that has around 3.6 lakh inhabitants including 52,266 members from the Tharu tribe in 42 community-dominated villages.
"So far, we have managed to vaccinate around 9,000 Tharus," said Ankit Dixit, a counsellor and in-charge of immunisation in the Palia block. However, he blames shortage of vaccine and absence of mobile network as the two biggest factors hampering the inoculation drive here.
"Not even a single Tharu dominated area is connected to the mobile network and hence registering people on the CoWin application is a cumbersome task. We have to note their names and numbers manually and then send the register to the town for feeding into the mobile application," said Dixit.
The Tharu community, found mainly in the Terai lowlands amid the Shivaliks or lower Himalayas, are mostly forest dwellers while some farm. The Tharus live both in India and Nepal. In the Indian terai, they are mostly found in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
In Uttar Pradesh, most Tharu villages are in Balrampur, Bahraich, Lakhimpur Kheri and Pilibhit.
Most of these villages are located deep into the forest areas and have poor or no road connectivity. Asha workers and Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) often have to walk through the forests or hire bullock carts to reach the villages.
As there is no mobile network in the tribal areas of Lakhimpur Kheri, health workers here either use SIM cards from Nepal or go to the town area to get mobile network connectivity.
On July 6, S Mohammed Haider, a social activist from Lakhimpur Kheri, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking setting up of cellular mobile networks in far flung villages adjoining Nepal.
He also mentioned how dismal mobile connectivity was hurting the Covid vaccination drive making it impossible to register on the CoWin mobile application, a mandatory requirement for vaccination.
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