Wednesday, Aug 4 at 9pm IST
The Sangath and MIND teams presented their work on increasing access to mental health resources across India, and how they have adapted these efforts to mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19. Some of Sangath’s ongoing initiatives in the realm of psychosocial health include Sharp, a project which will develop a smartphone app to provide personalized schizophrenia care and prevent relapses, TransCare, which aims to conduct research on and advocate for a transgender-inclusive healththcare system, and RO1, a precision treatment algorithm to determine if a patient will respond better to psychosocial care or anti-depressant medications. Sangath’s response to COVID-19 builds off their ongoing work, and seeks to support the mental health of both frontline workers and general individuals feeling psychologically burdened by the pandemic. Specifically, Sangath has implemented free tele-counseling, Zoom listening circles in which participants can discuss their experiences and concerns, and a self-care resource center on the Sangath website. Next, the MIND India Institute of Positive Mental Health and Research shared with the group their work to enable individuals to choose a state of positive well-being. Their comprehensive wellness center offers a wide suite of services such as yoga therapy, homeopathy, career counseling, and traditional therapeutic interventions. MIND is also training community based people to meet psychosocial needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MIND has expanded their services to include initiatives which raise awareness on mental health, and sharing circles for participants to talk about their feelings in a safe space. After the presentation, COP participants discussed the impact of the COVID-19 mental health crisis on ASHA workers, who are already serially overworked. They also talked about the salient need to increase mental health awareness and access to resources in tribal areas, where issues such as alcohol addiction are often undertreated; a possible partnership with Sangath, MIND, and MAHAN was proposed. Special thanks to Dr. Anant Bhan and Dr. Sangeeta Goswami for their important work and excellent presentations!
Thursday, July 29th at 9pm IST
The Sangwari team presented their work in home-based monitoring and ICU care for COVID-19 patients in rural Chhattisgarh. The home-based monitoring program which spanned 28 villages trained and equipped village locals to monitor active cases, refer serious ones and counsel families. The 20-bedded ICU was launched and set up in partnership with Doctors For You at the district hospital in Surguja to manage critically ill COVID-19 patients from five districts. The team shared valuable lessons learned and implementation challenges. The broad themes that emerged out of the discussion were: community-based monitoring is low-hanging fruit in COVID-19 care but hospital referral, vaccine and testing hesitancy need to be addressed; donated medical equipment needs to be tightly coupled with a robust training and support plan; protocols and guidelines that are contextualized for low-resource settings are needed; healthcare worker capacity building needs to reach deeper into rural communities and task-shifting implemented to decentralize COVID-19 care. The group ended with discussing plan to share these learnings with other ICU initiatives and the agenda of upcoming CoP meetings. Thank you to Dr. Dhiraj Deshmukh, Dr. Chetanya Malik and Dr. Yogeshwar Kolkonde for their wonderful presentation.
Thursday, July 22nd at 9pm IST
COP participants strategized on how to add to their shared body of knowledge post-COVID-19 without disbanding the group. Participants agreed that the weekly COP calls have been valuable, since they have brought together practitioners across the country to share their field experiences. Moving forward, participants proposed that the Community Science Alliance and the COP should create standardized primary care protocols and have a strong advocacy platform to ensure these protocols are widely adopted. In order to have a robust organizational structure, the idea of a central secretariat with rotating leadership was proposed. For the near future, participants suggested that the CSA focus on strong COVID-19 prevention-based advocacy for as long as the Delta Variant remains dangerous and there is an imminent risk of a third wave. The meeting ended with a discussion of how to improve the CSA’s content dissemination strategy — having a single messenger was recommended so that the information would be more easily digestible for the general public.
Thursday, July 15 9 PM IST
NORM team members presented their work on increasing consistent mask usage across South Asia. Their masking intervention model, which has demonstrated success in various Indian and Pakistani cities, includes distributing free masks where necessary, offering informational brochures encouraging masking to the general public, and enlisting the support of district authorities, cable media, and influential cultural leaders to reinforce and model masking behavior for citizens. Based on their work in Lahore, NORM has found that the key to a successful intervention scale-up is creating tight task forces amongst postmen, city and traffic police, bill distributors, and other local administrators, and training them to carry a clear message on masking to the general public. Presently, their main challenges are international import and export logistics for getting masks to smaller South Asian countries and adapting masking monitoring protocols to different local contexts. The group then had a broader discussion on the challenges of encouraging preventative masking without a clear trigger, such as a new COVID-19 wave. Participants agreed that in order for the masking movement to gain traction in South Asia, they need to identify a large city with a motivated city leader, where a masking intervention can be rolled out in collaboration with health groups such as J-PAL, Jeevika, and municipal organizations. To this end, NORM will set up meetings between city commissioners in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, and a few COP participants to discuss implementing city-wide masking interventions.