Covid Intelligence Service and revamping of Covid Governance in Manipur

Mohendro Nandeibam
The first battle has apparently been over; but war is not over. We are fighting in the thick of second battle. God knows the third wave may prove much more dangerous with an unexpected dragnet. Of course the rich and powerful countries have put their heads together to meet the challenge. We have to tighten the belt of Covid Governance.
Under any challenging situation preparedness and preparation could be a safe and sound foundation. Now in the highly unorganized and visibly under developed States like Manipur we have to answer a few questions; how to work unitedly as a system without loose relationship ? How far can we struggle as a team with genuine team spirit ? How to motivate the idle communities to come on the right track ? How can we mould the rigidity of old habits, while old habits die hard ? On the other hand the social wisdom is the greatest resource.
The so called formal get together and meetings with loose relationship and pseudo partnership as status symbol may in the long run be a fertile ground for vicious circle of policy paralysis and threaten to weaken the administrative backbone.
A time has definitely come for the NDA Government in Manipur to develop a strong policy to integrate Advice, Decision, Determination, and Will Power into a competitive strategy; unique in its preparation, application and effectiveness. How to dovetail and ensure the compliance of action with vision and mission ? The uneasy development experience of Manipur does not speak of the possibility.
A new Institutional Design should now be prepared and put in place to strengthen the present administrative apparatus and carry out successfully the calculated interventions of Mobilization, Information, Communication and Education (MICE) – right from the grass root. In a State like Manipur where academic citizenship is extremely low, micro-level solution is a cause of concern.
Secondly, Government makes rules and people act on them. Bringing the rules closer to the people could be a healthy step for creating better intimacy and reasonable response. The limited outcomes of some of the clinical interventions have part of their origin in the ignorance and indifference of the people and lack of professional dedication and discipline. This underscores the necessity for creating a built–in-mechanism for better mentoring, monitoring, reporting and management of Covid battle in Manipur. Manipur may now think of creating Covid Intelligence Service/Medical Surveillance Service with specific responsibility and admissible operational autonomy.
Thirdly, the Go-To-Village programme should now be suitably activated with a new role in the fight. Concerted Community action needs significant improvement. By and large people in Manipur are not free from the disability of ignorance and arrogance. Wellness remains just a misnomer. How can we expect better sanitation and wellness in a backward State where people in rural area depend on muddy and dirty water from the small ponds in the vicinity of the house ? Safe drinking water is a luxury to them. 38% of rural household in the State have nominal access to safe drinking water as against 100% in Puducherry, 94% in Himachal Pradesh and 83% in Sikkim. Hand washing is good and necessary but water is dirty and muddy. The Per Capita Expenditure on rural sanitation was only Rs. 0.44 as against Rs. 40 of Goa and Rs. 5 of Himachal Pradesh in 1998. The State needs a Revolution of Public Health and Personal Hygiene as part of Covid control.
Fourthly, the service of Directorate of Information and Public Relations needs significant improvement with weekly News Bulletin and mass poster campaign accompanied by regular publicity and discussion at all public places and youth clubs.
Fifthly, a time has come for Panchayat Ghars (office) to act as a bridge between villages and Covid Care Centers. Service on the threshold of the villages may go a long way in mobilizing towards a better Covid control.
Sixthly, special Home Vaccination Facility for senior citizens (above 65) could be a lively highlight of a welfare State. Changing manifestations demand changing strategy.
Dr. Singh, the writer, was Professor of Economics, MU