Mandla Likely to Become Covid Free District Soon

The tribal district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh is now enjoying a Covid 19 positivity rate of below 1%. This was made possible largely due to the diligent efforts of District Magistrate Harshika Singh and the residents' participation.
Indian Masterminds Stories

India is undoubtedly the worst-hit country when it comes to the second wave of Covid19. Although at some places, the intensity of the disease has started to flatten; at many others, cases are rising by the day and the death rate has hit an all-time high.

However, such is not the case in the tribal district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, situated close to the famous Kanha Tiger Reserve. Here, owing to the efforts of District Collector, Ms. Harshika Singh, and her team, Covid 19 positive cases have dropped to single digits! In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Singh explains how she is leading her district to a Covid-free existence, and this should materialize soon.


Mandla saw a rise in cases during April 2021, when Covid was at its peak. The administration immediately started focusing on strengthening their health facilities. Being a tribal district, they were at a loss of apt resources but they optimally used whatever resources were available.

“We saw 30-35% positivity rate and 200 cases per day, in mid-April, which was quite high. As the cases were increasing in the entire country, we could not refer our cases to hospitals of bigger cities; therefore we really had to pull up our socks to control the spread of the virus in the district,” Ms. Singh told Indian Masterminds.

Among other things, she revamped the hospitals and set up 150 extra oxygen beds. Owing to difficult terrain, Mandla has several community health centers in different places which were also converted into hospitals, each of them with 5-10 oxygen beds.

Door-to-door survey and testing of people in Mandla


Lacking a team of proper doctors, the Mandla administration decided to involve as much help as possible from any source. Ms. Singh asked people to contribute their services, even if they weren’t a part of the government or any other organization.

“We roped in youths with MBBS degree who were stuck due to lockdown, and AYUSH doctors who were idle. They were trained online to mentally condition themselves to handle a Covid patient. We also connected with retired senior doctors for their help,” she said.

Since the administration didn’t want the entire pressure to come on headquarters, she also involved block health officials and set up 10 oxygen beds in each block where the block doctors and paramedic staff were given training, as also local youth of the area.

The officer roped in medical graduates for an extra hand


Once Ms. Singh ensured that health facilities were appropriate, she started analyzing the extent of the spread of the virus. She formed a team that interpreted the data from the district and divided the district according to rural and urban settings.

“We classified our panchayats and urban areas into three categories – ones with 0 cases were in the green zone; 1-10 were in the orange zone, and above 10 were in the red zone. Furthermore, we started with an intensive door-to-door survey, wherein our Anganwadi and ASHA workers went to each house and screened them,” she told Indian Masterminds.

The chart depicting the number of cases in different regions

The entire 12.5 lakh population of the district was screened 3-4 times to identify suspected cases, and the patients were then given basic Covid medicines and were asked to take proper precautions.

Said Ms. Singh, “We introduced medicine vans in which our medical teams moved around and tested and mobilized people wherever there was a suspected case. This helped us in early identification of patients.”

Moving medical vans took medical teams to peoples’ house


Isolating the Covid 19 patients is the most important step when it comes to their recovery. Mandla being a small district, Ms. Singh came up with a management committee in which they included tribal leaders and respectable people of the district.

They were given the responsibility to deal with patients who were positive in their particular region. They had to look after their isolation, get them tested, and see that these people are not mixing with others. They were also asked to address the needs of their families to stop them from coming out of their homes.

“This man-to-man mapping at the village level was successful. The patients were tele-called thrice a day to analyze their condition and see if they needed any further medical help,” Ms. Singh told Indian Masterminds.

ASHA and Anganwadi workers meeting meeting with family of home quarantined patients


To ensure that people coming back from different states do not bring in the virus, they were quarantined for 13 days, screened, and tested, and only when they were declared Covid-negative, were they allowed to meet their family. This, it goes without saying, stopped the unnecessary movement of outsiders into Mandla.

Furthermore, a check-post to test people was set up on railway stations, bus stands, and other entry points of the district. A proper record was maintained of people entering the border and their tests.

“Since we are close to Chhattisgarh, an increase in cases in that state impacted us as well. Therefore, the community participated in sealing the borders and continuously screening the incoming migrants. They closed their ‘panchayat’ borders” she added.

Panchayats sealed their entry to bar movement

Ms. Singh’s assurance has really motivated the people to take care of themselves and their panchayats. Under her wings, the district’s positivity rate has dropped from 35% to below 1%. She is now focusing on vaccination drives and increasing the number of hospital beds, child ICU and is ready to face any issue that comes her way.

Indian Masterminds Stories

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