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Piramal Foundation plans 100 COVID care centres in 25 worst-hit rural, tribal districts

The intervention seeks to reach 20 lakh people in 1,143 blocks through a network of 1,000 plus NGOs and over 1 lakh volunteers

Piramal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Ajay Piramal-led Piramal Enterprises Limited (PEL), is planning to set up 100 COVID care centres in rural and tribal blocks across 25 of the worst affected aspirational districts across the country, investing Rs 100 crore.

This initiative will reach over 1.25 lakh people in four aspirational districts of Maharashtra and 20 lakh people across the country. Further, 20 lakh patients will be given home care support for asymptomatic, mild symptoms among the tribal and rural population with poor access to health services in 112 aspirational districts across India in partnership with NITI Aayog. The plans are to make hundred 30-bedded temporary COVID care centres. Each centre will cater to the population in the catchment area of the associated primary health centre. These will be dedicated spaces for COVID-positive, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases to be isolated and cared for in a well-ventilated room with essential facilities.

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The intervention seeks to reach 20 lakh people in 1,143 blocks through a network of 1,000 plus NGOs and over 1 lakh volunteers. In Maharashtra alone, it aims to reach 1.25 lakh people in 32 blocks of four aspirational districts of Gadchiroli, Nandurbar, Osmanabad and Washim, the worst affected districts in the state, which now account for 1.6 lakh COVID-19 cases and close to 3,063 fatalities. It is estimated that almost 3.3 per cent of the COVID-19 deaths in Maharashtra happened in these aspirational districts. Through local NGOs the intervention will enlist and train volunteers to engage with patients based on in-bound and out-bounds calls to educate caretakers to follow COVID protocol and provide timely updates about patients.

Government of India had identified 112 'aspirational' districts across the country, based on a composite index of challenges faced in terms of poverty, with citizens having relatively poor health and nutritional outcomes, education status, and deficient infrastructure.

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"As the pandemic spreads rapidly from urban areas to the rural hinterlands, containing the second wave of COVID-19 and curtailing the severity of a third wave is the top priority of the government. With its limited public health infrastructure and lack of skilled personnel, the rural health system is not adequately equipped to manage a surge in cases. There is a need for urgent and innovative action to address this gap," said Dr Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, Piramal Enterprises.