RAIPUR: A village in Chhattisgarh’s remote hinterland has come up with an inspiring tale. Located in the backward and Maoist-dominated Dantewada district, Renganar has achieved 100% vaccination. In capital Raipur and Bilaspur, this figure is 57% and 61%, respectively.
The task was not easy. Other than distance from modern amenities, there were logistical obstacles. Making the tribal communities, who form 95% of the village’s population, believe that vaccines cause no harm was another challenge. Despite that, around 310 persons of Renganar in the above-18 age group who are eligible have been administered the first dose.
The village has a literacy rate of hardly 30%. Inhabitants are largely digitally illiterate, another challenge the authorities had to deal with while using the official ‘CG-Teeka’ app for registrations. “Local health workers and our specially constituted ‘Corona Jagrukta Dal’ (awareness teams) of teachers, mitanins (community health workers) and Angadwadi staff at the panchayat level played a vital role. Credit goes also to the understanding of the tribal people.
Most of them don’t have mobile phones, but in the CG-Teeka app, mobile phone numbers were not compulsory for registration,” said Deepak Soni, Dantewada Collector. Health worker who worked were also impressed to see that these tribal people did not have misconceptions about the vaccine. In many parts of rural India, myths about the process have proved a major hindrance.
“Initially, only a handful of people were vaccinated due to misconceptions and poor awareness. Most of them were hesitant. The ‘Corona Jagrukta Dal’ and others counselled the villagers and dispelled their fears. It’s a happy occasion for us to see that every eligible adult in our area is vaccinated. They are better guarded against the virus,” said Sanmati Telami, the woman sarpanch of Renganar.