As the world is struggling with Coronavirus, India is no different. With the cases increasing at a rampant rate, and people succumbing to death, it is heartbreaking to see how the curve rather than flattening, is climbing upwards.
In the midst of frightening figures, there is a reason to celebrate. Some parts of our country have shown some signs of respite, and the reason being is a well-thought-of timely response.
One such place is the state of Kerala. With only 16 active cases now, Kerala has effectively flattened the curve. And, the credit of this great achievement largely goes to KK Shailaja, the state’s Health and Social Welfare Minister.
Within 100 days after the first case in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the state has been successful in containing the virus. This was due to timely intervention, detection, and action by KK Shailaja.
Kerala has also maintained India’s lowest mortality rate for this infection.
When Shailaja read about the virus in China, without wasting any time, she immediately formed a Rapid Response Team as students from Kerala studying at Wuhan University were expected to return.
A control room was formed that was dedicated to the situation. From isolating people to maintaining the stock of provisions of equipment like N95 masks and PPEs, the team made plans.
Shailaja set up almost 18 committees that report to her every day and held daily press conferences conveying the need to break the chain.
From testing most samples in India to contact tracing and route maps, the team left no stone unturned in controlling the pandemic. Shailaja was also in charge of responding to the Nipah virus outbreak in 2018, and she used all her learning from that time.
Shailaja’s systemic approach and leadership have been lauded by many. No one could deny that the Kerala model is one that should be followed by the rest of the country.
Her focus on public health is quite evident. As she explained to Vogue,
“Government hospitals should be patient-friendly, high-tech, and out-of-pocket expenditure must reduce. Primary healthcare units are very important, especially in rural areas, they now have testing labs and are able to catch early signs of different diseases.”
She ensured that the novel practices like mid-day meal delivery to students, prisoners stitching medical masks, and public companies manufacturing sanitizers are also put in place.
KK Shailaja’s methods have resulted in 462 people recovering from infections in Kerala, and only 3 deaths. Thanks to the great planning, even patients of extremely old age have been recovering.
At IFORHER, we are in awe of Shailaja – the Coronawarrior – and her determination to fight COVID-19. We hope the rest of the country will also seek inspiration from Shailaja and ensure we don’t leave a chance of beating this virus without suffering too many losses.