Channel All Resources for Immediate Pandemic Relief and Long-term Community Wellbeing, say 65 Civil Society Organisations and Networks of Vikalp Sangam
(Vikalp Sangam, a platform for alternatives in India, recommends short and long-term measures for responsive and accountable actions for COVID-19 to rebuild the nation with an equity lens. The statement is endorsed by around 65 leading civil society organisations and movements in the country – Read the entire statement)
New Delhi 12 May: The COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging India, affecting virtually every family one way or another. The abysmal state of the public health system and the callous ignoring of credible experts and clear early warnings, by the central and most state governments, have brought us here. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and all other frontline workers are overstretched and have lost their colleagues in the line of duty. The pandemic’s second wave in India is a systematic political failure for which the government needs to be held accountable.
The spread of the virus has shown the strong connections between our environment and human health. As Ritu Priya, Professor at Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a member of the Vikalp Sangam Core group says, “the focus now must shift on human and environmental health and well being.”
Vikalp Sangam, a platform working towards socially just and ecologically sustainablealternative pathways to well-being, suggests immediate, short and long-term measures for mitigating the impacts of the pandemic on the health and livelihoods of millions of people. These recommendations have been endorsed by around 65 leading civil society organizations and movements working across India, comprising the Vikalp Sangam’s core group.
For immediate measures, Vikalp Sangam recommends: providing primary and home care support to mild to moderate patients in urban and rural areas, ensuring timely oxygen and respiratory support facilities, raising awareness of rational medical treatment based on credible scientific studies and long-term experience, ensuring accessible vaccination free of charge to all those who want it, and various other immediate and short term measures for health, including access to traditional and modern systems of health that could provide immunity and cures.
Abha Bhaiya of Jagori Rural, an active member of Vikalp Sangam, notes that vulnerable sections of the population are worst affected. Accordingly, the statement also demands wages, food and social security for those most vulneable, including the elderly, orphaned children, migrant and daily wage workers, transgender community and sex workers, single mothers, pregnant and lactating women, small-scale farmers, fishers, pastoralists, people with diabilities and especiallyDalit and Adivasi communities.
Vikalp Sangam demands that all the unnecessary expenditures including the construction of the wasteful Central Vista Redevelopment Project must be halted and all available resources must be diverted to urgent COVID response.
In addition, medium and long measures recommended by Vikalp Sangam include: enabling local, self-reliant livelihoods that are also ecologically sound, revamping and democratising the public health system, enhancing mental health and counselling services, prioritising restoration and conservation of natural ecosystems, and enabling agency over common lands and productive resources to local governance systems.
Given the impacts of climate change and other ecological damage and impending pandemics that are predicted to become more frequent in the coming decades, it is important to question a development ideology based only on growth in GDP, which is meaningless as evident by the pandemic. Such growth has only increased inequalities, economic insecurity among tens of million and amplified ecological devastation. As Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh, one of the coordinators of the Vikalp Sangam, says: “We have to move to alternative ways of achieving human well-being, while protecting the ecological foundations our lives depend on, and there are hundreds of practical initiatives already that show us the way forward.”
For more information, contact Vasudha Varadarajan [email protected]