A Look through the Mist - Rebuild Social Bonds

  • It is nearly fifteen months since Coronavirus entered India. Now it is time to remodel Strategies. Rebuild Social Bonds & Emotional Links by replacing Mantra of “Social Distancing” with “Physical Distancing.”
  • First need is to rebuild faith of masses in governed hospitals. Next along with infra audit there is a need for ‘behavioural’ audit too.

The fears of the spread of Corona virus through air and there being no ‘nominated’ treatment available has made many to live in the subconscious mind that in case he / she becomes a victim there will be no one from  friends or relations who would come to attend during hospitalisation. The fear of ‘aloneness’ that has grown due to people practicing a near total “Social Distancing” which has made people insecure and weak. 


I had sensed the damage that the term “Social Distancing” could do and had in March 2020 suggested that instead of “Social Distancing” we should use & promote the term “Physical Distancing” so that people do not distance emotionally. It was on this 13th May that a friend told me that son of his family ‘friend’ so painfully told him that he was alone running for arranging materials requisitioned by doctors for his father who was lying alone in a covid ward in a Jammu Hospital. Surely, it was more the fear of the “unknown” Covid ghost due to which the friends and relations were distancing. 


The pressure is not only on the patients/attendants but it is also on the nursing staff who too are under stress because of which some attendants might have found them ‘indifferent’ which they may not be. 


In March 2020 the western media had aired a mantra for preventing being infected by Covi19, the mantra was “Social Distancing”. Indian leadership too had caught on to these words. Covid -19 was an unknown “vulture” then with no known treatment to treat and vaccination to prevent.  So ek gaj ki doori (3 ft - 4 feet distance) as “Social Distancing” and wearing a mask were the most talked about preventions that were promoted. It is now 15 months since then. No doubt some vaccines have entered the market but social distancing continues as a prime prevention and the prevention and the slogan of 3-4 feet ki doori has stretched to 2 gaj ki doori ( 6 feet distance).  


Government is pooling all possible resources to treat affected people but the numbers affected are so large that the existing infrastructure is inadequate handle the load of patients. No doubt there are short comings in planning, erecting the infrastructure, handling the men & materials and setting priorities. However, infrastructure that was to be made over 70 years cannot be built overnight.  

Given the size of people infected by Coronavirus the common man is living under both psychological and emotional stress. There is fear of being infected. So one who becomes a victim of fear reduces their reduced immune system and thus ability to self- generate antibodies.  


So, we have to live with the resources we have and make ourself / our system to deliver with more, vigour, efficiency and commitment. The social bonds and emotional support are half the medicine required to strengthen one’s immune system. This would also help the nursing staff & Doctors (particularly in government hospitals) who by working are putting their own safety at risk too.  


The “2 Gaj ki doori and use of Mask” are still being prescribed as the best protection from likely infection and hence why not rebuild social bonds by linking emotions again and replace the Mantra of “Social Distancing with Physical Distancing”?  


Even senior doctors are under emotional stresses, particularly Government Doctors. Indians must keep in mind that it is only the government hospitals and government health care infra and not the Private Hospitals that would ultimately support and save 95 % of the affected people.  


It was in the evening of this 14th May that a news agency flashed.  BREAKING NEWs : 3027 fresh Covid19 cases, 60 deaths reported In J&K due to pestilence / pandemic. Around the same time received a message from a very senior doctor who said, “Worry is with respect to the non-registered COVID deaths at home. Worry is that people are not coming forward for testing and hospitalization. All these can create a volcano,  they will erupt badly.  


What is the reason, I asked, for ‘affected’ people not making timely disclosure or not timely approaching atleast government hospitals where all consultations and provisions are ‘mostly’ costless? The answer to this question can be found in the form of reasons and solutions below – 


1. Making the people feel that carrying the Covid-19 infection is not a ‘social stigma’. 


2. Common masses have lost faith in the government hospitals. Hence confidence has to be restored.  Ministers/MPs are issuing press statements with claims on “quality@ quantity” of Health care infrastructure that has been created/will be created in few months whereas they themselves move go to private hospitals. 


3. Removing the common fear that if we disclose we are covid19 positive then there would be none to do the running around for daily chores or if admitted to hospital there would be only a few to help. If government can communicate that affected people must not fear and they will be taken care of by government hospitals, there could be more honest reports of infections.  


4. Ministers and IAS officers can show the way by getting themselves treated in government hospitals themselves. This will also help them the know the actual condition of government hospitals.


5. Moral of people working in hospitals needs a booster. Their stress can reduce if doctors are able to get all urgent needs, are physically secure and officers of administration can assist them for handling attendant/patient queries. 


6. With responsibility comes authority. They work hand in hand. So doctors must be empowered. The government must prepare an overhaul of the existing hospital medical system.


Audits on the ground should be undertaken to ensure that results match with promises. It is a form of feedback.


Author is a senior journalist based in Jammu. 

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