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ASHAs of Odisha: overcoming COVID related stigma and discrimination

Khurda:2/7/20: Manju Jeena, an ASHA from village Kandalei of Khurda district, Odisha, has been working tirelessly to support COVID-19 related activities and ensure that her community has access to essential and other health services. In her years of committed community service, Manju has built up significant social capital, enabling her to effectively negotiate in addressing COVID related stigma and resultant discrimination. When a young returnee migrant was denied entry into the village and his home, Manju took it upon herself to single-handedly address the stigmatizing behavior of the community. She combined community awareness on COVID-19 with relentless advocacy to ensure that the returnee was able to stay in home quarantine. She rigorously undertook regular follow up on his health status and healthcare needs during the quarantine period.

During the lockdown, she continued to facilitate access to other essential health services. She encouraged and accompanied several pregnant women for institutional delivery. Going beyond the call of duty, Manju also sewed face masks at home and distributed them to the poor in her village.

About 46,627 ASHAs in Odisha have emerged as champions against COVID-19 in rural and urban areas, addressing local health needs. They are seen to be working closely with Gaon Kalyan Samitis in the rural areas and Mahila Arogaya Samitis in the urban areas, community collectives within which ASHAs are embedded. They have used these forums to facilitate COVID preventive actions by promoting the use of masks/face covers when stepping out in public spaces, being attentive towards frequent hand washing, following physical distancing, enhancing awareness of COVID symptoms, etc.

 

About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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