New Delhi: Mahatma Gandhi once said that the real India lives in villages. This was a period when villages were the soul of India. But over the years we have gradually forgotten the villages because the centre of power was in the cities. The centre of the media was also in the cities. Even today the media of our country shows the news of cities and the regional media is limited to the state capitals. Opinion makers of our country live in the cities. All celebrities and movie stars also have their homes in the cities.

Even today during the ongoing COVID pandemic, everyone is talking about the cities and the villages have been ignored.

Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary on Monday (May 10) discussed the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic in rural India.

The coronavirus infection is spreading rapidly in the rural areas of many states and there are some villages where there have been five or more deaths due in the last 10 days. It should be noted that until someone from the village goes to the COVID Centre at the district headquarters, they are not included in the government records.

The situation is such that people in the villages still believe that the deaths are because of fever and cough. In many villages, people have locked themselves in their homes. In some villages, people are not even getting a proper funeral owing to the fear of infection.

There are reports of infection in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. But it is difficult to estimate precisely how much infection has spread there. This is because there is no facility for COVID testing in the villages and there is no treatment facility either.

Even a drug like Paracetamol is being black-marketed there. Normally a leaf of Paracetamol comes at Rs 6 to 7 but nowadays in villages it is not available even for Rs 200.

There are about six and a half million villages in India, in which about 90 crore people live. 45 crore people live in the cities. That is, more than half of the population of our country lives in villages and the situation is not good.

At present, the total number of infected patients in India is 27 million, of which it is estimated that about 80 per cent of the patients are living in big cities. 18 to 19 per cent of patients are in small towns and less than one per cent are in villages. Now if the infection spreads in the villages just like the cities, it is feared that crores of people will be affected.

Three key points need to be understood in this regard:

1. The villages do not have COVID testing and corona treatment facilities. Although 90 crore people of our country live in villages, the bitter truth is that there are neither large hospitals nor doctors in the villages. There is an insufficient number of Community Health Centres, First Aid Centers, and Health Sub Centres.

2. The number of doctors in the villages is very less and the number of quacks is more. According to a 2016 WHO report, 57 per cent of doctors in the country are fake. And most of them treat people in villages. The same thing is happening at this time. In many villages of Uttar Pradesh, fake doctors are treating infected patients and giving them medicines for malaria and typhoid. This is worsening the condition of the people.

3. Many people in the villages are undermining the threat of coronavirus. Last year, the infection was mainly confined to the cities and hence some people call it the disease of the cities. The village people believe that they breathe pure air, eat good and nutritious food, so they will not get this infection. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the new variants of coronavirus are capable of badly affecting the rural population as well.

The need of the hour is that the villagers should be made aware of the reality of the situation and the government must work to create healthcare infrastructure in the rural areas.

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