COVID-19 outbreak has presented an unprecedented health emergency worldwide. In India, this has led to increased requirement of medical facilities including masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and face shields for medical and police personnel, cleaning staff etc. Government is also making the use of masks by the citizens compulsory in most areas.
The strength of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, are the approximately 690 lakh women members of around 63 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the country. SHG members have emerged as community warriors by contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of COVID-19. As the masks were the first line of defence against COVID-19, SHGs immediately took up the task of production of masks. Various categories of masks including 2-3 ply woven and non-woven surgical masks, cotton masks etc. adhering to the advisories of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Consumers’ Affairs and instructions of Health Departments from the states are produced by SHGs. The masks have been supplied to the health department, Local Self Government (LSGs), local administration, front line workers, police officials, and are also sold in open markets. It has also been distributed free to the rural households in many states. SHG members have now also started making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like aprons, gowns, face shields etc.
Details of masks, PPE, face shield etc produced through SHG network and media coverage are as follows:
Jharkhand SHG women producing masks (Source: Twitter)
The micro-enterprises supported by DAY-NRLM have taken up the production of hand sanitisers and hand wash products to ensure the availability in rural areas. 900 SHG enterprises in 9 States have produced 1.15 lakh litres of sanitisers with the production in the three States of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh exceeding 25,000 litres each. Around 900 SHG enterprises located across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram are producing sanitizers to feed soaring demand.
Following guidelines proposed by World Health Organization (WHO), a well-measured mix of four ingredients has been used to develop these sanitizers in Jharkhand. The sanitizer has been developed using alcohol (72%), distilled water (13%), glycerin (13%) and basil (2%). For their medicinal effects, lemon grass or basil are being added to the hand sanitizer to increase its effectiveness in destroying the virus. Priced modestly at Rs. 30/- per 100 ml bottle of sanitizer, they are being made available to the general public, hospitals and police stations.
Some SHGs have also been selling liquid soaps to guarantee safe hand hygiene. SHG units located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu have also been able to produce 50,000 litres of hand-washing products.
Sustaining their livelihoods through socially responsive contributions in promoting safe hygiene practices within their respective communities, these women have been fighting the COVID-19 outbreak with utmost dedication and devotion.