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‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ COVID-19 health centres in medical college to treat migrant workers in Kannur

As a part of the programme, facilities, including one primary and one secondary health centre, will be set up in the district

The Kannur district administration in Kerala has decided to implement a special health care system to address health issues faced by migrant workers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

District Collector T. V. Subhash told The Hindu that about 25,000 migrant workers presently find home in the district, scattered across different locations and living under difficult conditions.

Under the special healthcare system for migrant workers, the administration plans to establish various facilities, including ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ health centres exclusively for them.

As a part of the programme, facilities, including one primary and one secondary health centre, will be set up. There is also a plan to have primary centres in Kannur block panchayat, which harbours most of the migrant labour population in the district.

For secondary-level care, it has been proposed to set up an in-patient facility at Pazhayangadi taluk hospital. Besides providing medical and curative services, these centres will have facilities such as ambulances with oxygen supply, the Collector said.

Male and female wards

Considering the rising COVID-19 cases, it has been decided to set up dedicated male and female wards for migrant workers in Kannur Government Medical College (KGMC), with 13 beds each.

This will function as a referral centre for emergency cases. Five ventilators have been arranged in ICU wards, he said. A mobile clinic will also be set up for conducting health camps at places where there are more guest workers.

To begin with, ₹75 lakh has been sanctioned for the medical college as per the recommendations of the District Disaster Management Authority, Kannur. An amount of ₹1.76 crore will be utilised from the PM CARES fund for the purpose, said Mr. Subhash .

Arun Biswas, a 35-year-old migrant worker from West Bengal, said that the new initiative would provide huge relief to migrant workers like him. He said the biggest problem migrant workers faced here was lack of proper accommodation.

"We live in cramped rooms and the disease easily spreads. Many of my fellow workers faced the same problem during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak," he said.

Mr. Biswas said due to the lockdown in Kerala, they have been put out of work. Besides, private hospitals are unaffordable. Such health centres for migrant workers would lend relief in this pandemic, he added.

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