In addition to quashing rumours and fears associated with the Covid-19 vaccines, the local quacks, who have treated people here for years, are also asking people to follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and physical distancing guidelines.
Amidst shortage of doctors and health workers, Jamtara district administration in Jharkhand has roped in more than 400 quacks and local healers to persuade residents to get vaccinated against Coronavirus. In addition to quashing rumours and fears associated with the Covid-19 vaccines, the local quacks, who have treated people here for years, are also asking people to follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and physical distancing guidelines, the Indian Express reported. Poor and illiterate residents of the area who have grown up getting treatment from such quacks consider these healers no less than a doctor and follow what is told religiously.
One Sushil Ghosh who has treated patients of the area for more than 20 years only had a brief stint at a medical store before he started his practice is among the 419 such quacks roped in by the district administration. In Dalabar village of the district, Ghosh is known as “Doctor Ghosh” by people and his advice and suggestions are followed seriously by the people of the village.
A senior government official told the Indian Express that the model currently in practice in Jamtara and Khunti district of Jharkhand is expected to be expanded to other districts as well in the coming days. So far as the training of such healers goes, Jamtara Deputy Commissioner Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz told the Indian express that the district administration had called all 419 quacks for a meeting with government officials and information related to the virus and Covid-19 appropriate behaviour was imparted to them.
Defending the move against criticism that such moves will further strengthen quackery in the region, Ahmed said that the healers were incorporated by the government as they are trusted by villagers and have treated them for years. Moreover, the official said that the authorities had an option of relegating this task to teachers but psychologically the advice of quacks is paid more heed by people as they have a bond of trust and acquaintance.
So far the authorities have not made any provision of remuneration for the quacks but they have been promised to be provided with an appreciation certificate by the district authorities. The Deputy Commissioner also said that there are plans to trim the size of the quacks to under 100 and train them properly to collect swabs of the residents.
The senior government official who wanted to remain anonymous also told the Indian Express that the Jamtara district model is expected to be rolled out on a larger scale in the state to help people get treatment for mild symptoms of the disease in addition to quashing rumours and fighting vaccine hesitancy among the people.