Lack of trust key challenge in Dharavi
The team said the residents have become more aware and begun to trust them and it was now easier to deal with the pandemic in Dharavi that is home to around 6 lakh people.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 07:31 IST
Residents of Mumbai’s Dharavi were initially reluctant in reporting Covid-19 symptoms because of fear and stigma attached to the disease and the absence of accurate information led to a spike in the number of infections, according to a team of private doctors and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials working in one of the country’s biggest slums.
The team said the residents have become more aware and begun to trust them and it was now easier to deal with the pandemic in Dharavi that is home to around 6 lakh people. The slum has recorded over 150 Covid-19 cases in the last 10 days. The team found the residents started reporting symptoms only after the first lot of the quarantined residents were discharged.
A BMC official, who is part of the team, said getting accurate information was among the most challenging tasks in managing the outbreak because of the stigma.
The BMC has screened nearly 50,000 people in Dharavi since April 9. As many as 275 people have tested positive. The slum has reported 14 fatalities while 10 patients have been discharged from hospitals.
Tejaswi Kakade, a medical officer with the BMC, said they have been tracing highrisk contacts of those testing positive. “We met with a lot of reluctance initially but later trust was built between us and the residents. There was a lack of awareness among citizens, but with the issue being highlighted everywhere citizens now call us and inform us that they have developed symptoms.”
Kakade said it was difficult to go out in the heat wearing the personal protective equipment and ensuring enough precautions were taken against the virus.
Another medical officer, Nazish Shaikh, 33, said it was a difficult task to screen residents in narrow lanes and also maintain social distancing. “We had to seek the help of locals for visiting houses considering Dharavi is a maze, and there are chances of getting lost. There are certain pockets where residents can speak only their mother tongue...”
The BMC is relying on around 350 private clinics opened in the area for the people to report their symptoms.
“We are going to keep around 350 private clinics open where citizens will definitely come with their illness, and from there we have developed a mechanism to trace positive patients,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner, BMC.