About the Authors:
Naveen Saju and Greeshma B Raj,
Students, Seventh Semester, BBA LLB,
Co-operative School of Law, Thodupuzha, Kerala
Kerala is one of the states in India which effectively tackles the Covid-19 situation among the country. Surpassing many other developed states, Kerala state was able to flatten the curve of Covid-19 pandemic which many other states were not able to do. Kerala has a long history of Social development, dating from the “Kerala Development Model” in the late 1970’s. For sustained long-run development, Kerala mainly focuses on the development of health, education of people and technological advancements. After the state embraces the globalisation policies in the mid-’90s, the state continuously focuses its development of literacy to its people, education and health sectors.
One of the main reasons for the “flattening the curve of Covid-19” is the general system of awareness made by the health department is very high, especially among female and other weaker sections of the society due to state’s higher literacy rates than any other states in India. The Kerala State has been able to contain the possible rapid spread swiftly since the state has a higher level of combination of a high level of awareness as well as the effective functioning of the Health Department.
THE KERALA MODEL
Even if “The Kerala Model” cannot be replicated by many other states in India due to its poorly invested health, medical and educational sectors, they can be benefited from many valuable insights made by the Kerala Model. One of the main specialities of Kerala Model is that Kerala’s “preparedness” to deal with the pandemic. It is appreciable and is a role model for the other states in the nation.
Even though there were banks on the availability of public goods in the system, Kerala State diligently follows the approach of WHO, “test, trace, isolate and treat” which many other states was neglected to follow. The success of dealing with such a pandemic lies in social mobilisation. The Kerala State was successful in isolating and quarantining the infected and deals effectively with the issues of in-migrant workers simultaneously due to community participation.
Much like the previous episodes of crises in the state like Nipah Virus and environmental disasters, Kerala launched a campaign to mobilise and associate people for a variety of activities ranging from “break the chain” to the setting up of community kitchens. The state was highly successful in overcoming the secondary effects of lockdown such as poverty and deprivation and counter it up fronted due to the immense support from the public community.
Kerala succeeded in flattening the curve and registering perhaps the lowest death rate in the world besides a very high recovery rate. One of the key factors behind the success of Kerala Model is its comprehensive planning, well in advance. The stated started its plan when the first Covid-19 case was reported in Wuhan in China in early January. The health department constituted eighteen expert groups, and training for health care staff began. There was detailed stock-taking of beds, equipment and staff strength in each hospital. The primary speciality of Kerala Model is that right from the beginning; all the positive cases reported were under the government treatment facility and provided free treatment including the treatments that were offered to the foreigners too who were affected by this pandemic. This was one other major factor which distinguishes the Kerala Model from different states of the nation.
SPECIALITIES OF KERALA MODEL
1) Physical distancing, social solidarity
The Kerala State was among the first to introduce precautionary state-wide measures against the novel coronavirus threat. It has successfully slowed down the speed of spreading of the deadly disease in the state through appropriate and early actions by making physical distancing and mainly sanitary precautionary measures and providing better protection to the health staff well before the nationwide lockdown was imposed on late March. The Kerala Government also invites different political party leaders, religious and other spiritual leaders, representatives from different sections of the society, local bodies and civil society organisations considering the social, economic, the political status of the state for to participate in the policy-making decisions and for the effective implementation of the decisions. The state was also successful in preventing stigmatisation of those who get infected, even opposing the term social distancing which has caste connotations with physical distancing and social solidarity.
2) Returning migrants
The Kerala State is one of the states in India having a large number of internal Indian migrants. With the nationwide lockdown, non-residents, equivalent to almost 5% of Kerala’s population, have returned, causing a surge of new infections. This situation makes the state more vulnerable. Despite the controversy exists, the state handles the situation much better than many other far developed states in the nation. Recognising there was no time to be lost, the Kerala state government set up mechanisms to identify, test and isolate and treat those infected, quickly earning an excellent reputation.
3) Less disruptive, less costly but more effective
The State of Kerala had played a significant role to flatten the curve of the pandemic with its limited fiscal resource. There is an ‘all-of-government approach’ which involves where the state and central government agencies work together to design measures to improve coordination, consistency, communication and thus to avoid confusion. The ‘whole-of-society approach’ was also very successful where experts were able to find out the infected areas, and they find out the most locally appropriate modes of limiting the infections.
4) Credible leadership
The Kerala government has set up 18 committees and holds daily evening meetings to evaluate the situation, issuing media updates about those quarantined, tested and hospitalised. In this meeting, the Chief Minister and Health Minister calmly state the present condition of the pandemic and what the government was doing over these times. By providing credible leadership on the complicated issues involved, they were able to secure strong public participation for its mass campaign of containment.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF KERALA MODEL
Kerala is one of the states which tackle the Covid-19 pandemic most successfully than the rest of the nation. This was due to the different efforts made by the various wings of the government and the general public.
· Disha Helpline number facility was installed in every district basis in the respective collectorate.
· It gives the tele-awareness to the general public through various regional and national languages.
· When the first case reported in the second phase of the pandemic at Pathanamthitta district of Kerala State, the government takes proper measures to safeguard the health of the general public by closing all educational institutions and imposes strict restrictions to social gatherings.
· The social distancing was much extended in Kerala by closing shopping malls, Restaurants, cinema theatres and multiplex, textile shops and all other occasions were the public gathers as a group.
· Due to the above-mentioned step made during the early stage of the pandemic in the second phase, the state was successful in preventing the spreading of the deadly pandemic and thus avoiding the threat of the community spread of disease in a state like Kerala where the density of population is 860 persons/sq.km.
· The state government gave great support to the Trial lockdown, i.e., Janata Curfew, where people came to know what a lockdown means and to what extent it affects the normal social life and supported the lockdown issued by the central government.
· The state Covid-19 wing and the Health Department was quite successful in making the root map of patients who got infected by this pandemic and by this proper measure, they were able to quarantine and isolate those people who were in one way or other was in connection with the one who gets infected with the Covid-19 pandemic.
· The Kerala Police were very vigilant, and there patrolling was very effective to control the situation.
By making these effective and useful steps, the state was able to identify which all locations need to be isolated and which all need to have relaxed procedures. The state was also highly successful in creating awareness in the minds of people regarding the use of sanitisers and masks in the public areas and wherever people gather. They also focus on the personal hygiene of the people. Thus, in another way, it helps to reduce the panic of the people. Therefore, the Kerala Model is an inspiration and role model for every other state in the country as well as to the whole world.
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the views and opinions expressed are of the author, and not Law Colloquy.