Interview

‘Ayush Department Enabling Citizens to Boost Immunity Amidst Corona Crisis’

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At a time when COVID-19 has sparked panic and fear among people, Ayush Department, Uttar Pradesh has come up with many initiatives to ensure safety of citizens. The department has leveraged technology and developed Ayush Kavach app which disseminates information on immunity-boosting measures and other health-related tips to keep oneself safe from COVID- 19 attack, says Dr Raj Kamal Yadav, Special Secretary, Ayush, Government of Uttar Pradesh & Mission Director, Uttar Pradesh State Ayush Society, in conversation with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).

Give us an overview of Ayush Department and Mission Ayush in Uttar Pradesh vis-a-vis Corona crisis.

The Ayush Department comprises mainly four sections – Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani & Siddha, and Homoeopathy. The Department is focusing on key issues in the wake of Corona crisis which has wreaked havoc across the world including India.

We are trying to develop and deploy secondary manpower line to tide over the crisis. We have conducted biggest online training and certification. We have provided online training to more than 20,000 Ayush manpower, comprising doctors, pharmacists, and staff nurses including government staff who are regularly engaged with us. We have also engaged Ayush Institutions which are working in teaching sector. They have lots of PG, PhD. students, their own teachers and hospital staff. We have covered all of them. Then we also have manpower of state around 20,000. At some places, they are already employed on duty and some places they are waiting to join as situation arises.

In addition, we are preparing few batches within our own department. We have 19 educational institutions of Ayush which are in the direct control of the government. They have good hospital facilities which can be used to quarantine people as per the requirement of local administration. We have given clear instruction to leverage the facility as per requirements.

We are also having 70 private institutions which are imparting education in Ayush sector. They also have teaching hospitals. They have also been instructed to be ready in case situation demands so. This way, we are prepared to contribute around 5000-6,000 beds facility for COVID-19 patients, if need arises.

Dharam Singh Saini

Dharam Singh Saini
Minister of Ayush, Government of Uttar Pradesh

Most important thing we all need to understand that good health and immunity are needed to fight off any disease including Corona. We take measures to make people believe so and focus on holistic health. For this, we do IEC activities and undertaking other steps like encouraging people to use Ayush Kavach app and wear masks, along with social distancing. Our objective is to ensure good health of citizens, leveraging whatever available resource in terms of manpower and other infrastructure.

Technology plays a vital role in managing crisis especially such pandemic. How are you leveraging it?

In terms of technology, we are minimizing human to human contact to prevent infection to spread further. Most of the things are running on e platform nowadays. We have started Ayush Kavach initiative where experts answer basic queries of people related to general health and corona infection. Our objective is easy flow of critical information related to preventive measures to citizens. Since 5 May, when the app came into existence, we have answered 11,000 queries through the platform. We are also encouraging people to have tele consultations. These things can be easily accessible through technology.

What is the objective of the Ayush Kavach app and how did it become popular among citizens. Where did the idea come from to develop such an app?

Ayush Kavach app has been developed with an aim to provide health-related tips and information about ayurvedic medicines and easily available resources to enhance immunity of people during the coronavirus crisis. The world has come to a standstill due to COVID-19. The app provides information on immunity-boosting measures and other health-related tips to keep oneself safe from COVID- 19 attack. This app can be downloaded from Google Play Store. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stucare.ayush)

Ayush Kavach app was conceptualized by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath. He directed the Ayush department to come up with something which can help people to boost their immunity and guide how to protect themselves in this critical time.

The CM floated the idea and we all worked to execute it. There was a team of key officials under the guidance of Principal Secretary Prashant Trivedi who had fair idea how things can be presented in right perspective. Then, Hon’ble Minister of Ayush Dharam Singh Saini who gave free hand to execute the idea. I was assigned the task to develop it. A rough draft was prepared with all the ideas. Then an idea struck to have experts’ advice in it and to integrate control rooms as well.

In addition, we thought to integrate yoga in it as it plays a pivotal role to maintain good health. The users can attend live yoga sessions or get information about different Ayurveda medicines. All these tips and tricks are being broadcasted on the app for the purpose of fighting Coronavirus. Along with that, the app also provides general information on precautionary measures that one can take to protect themselves from COVID-19.

How are you ensuring safety of employees who are at frontline in the fight against COVID-19? What kinds of suggestions have been given to them?

General suggestions like to maintain hygiene, use masks, wash hands and sanitize yourself on regular basis. Those are general protocols. Other than that, those who are in direct role to handle patients, they have to follow guidelines issued by the Health Ministry like to wear PPE and all. We are also giving them adequate rest, rotational shift, and make them follow social distancing too. We are not asking all staff to work in a single shift – maximum 30-40 percent at a time. We are encouraging them to maintain disciplined lifestyle to boost their immunity. They are qualified doctors and experts who have fair idea that these precautionary measures are effective in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and Unani form of treatment. Though they know how to take good care of themselves, we lend them helping hand whenever need arises.

Prashant Trivedi

Prashant Trivedi
Principal Secretary, Ayush, Government of Uttar Pradesh

Every crisis is an opportunity. How do you perceive it as an opportunity? What are the challenges?

This is the difficult time and whole world is coming to term with it. There is a learning lesson – good health should be top priority to everybody. This pandemic has big message to all that ‘health is wealth’ and everybody should pay utmost attention to take good care of it. As we have to cater to a large population in Uttar Pradesh. Last mile healthcare delivery system is need of the hour.

Tell us about future plans of Ayush Department.

The Department of Ayush has many future plans to expand our operation. We are trying to bring most of the things on e platform which can be accessed anywhere anytime. We are working along this line. We will be coming up with some more initiatives in couple of month which will enable entire population to interact with us on various online platforms. We are also planning to expand operation and distribution to disseminate information about measures to boost immunity.

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