Kerala’s current health minister Shailaja the ‘Rockstar’
There have been articles saying that the Hon. Minister Shailaja Teacher who is the Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Kerala is the reason why they have such good statistics when it comes to the pandemic. She has even been called Coronavirus Slayer and Rockstar Health Minister. Perhaps she actually does deserve the accolades because the truth is Kerala came through two Nipah virus epidemics under her watch. This highly contagious disease for which there is no treatment, was a true preparation for managing Covid-19.
When asked about the Kerala Health Minister, Agi Mary Joseph said “Shailaja is really understanding. Everyone can see that she gets the job done and efficiently.”
Shailaja came from a lineage of freedom fighters with a background as a Communist and she was encouraged to study a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education. Her grandmother was a campaigner about untouchability. So as a child Shailaja grew up surrounded by activism when the ‘Kerala model’ was being designed. The foundations of this health activism in India were built from the start to include a decentralised public health system and investment in public education. So the Kerala model was ready to respond to Coronavirus.
Shailaja included the use of homeopathy in Kerala’s plan
Tactics used by Shailaja included encouraging the use of homeopathy. In a recent media meeting, she talked about the need “to improve the immunity and resistance power of each individual not yet positive to Coronavirus, with the help of Homeopathic/ Ayurvedic medicines. That will help them resist the Coronavirus infection, help them to tide over the infection well, if at all they contract it…… everyone should take Homeopathic & Ayurvedic preventative treatments available.” [thank you to Dr Sam Punnoose for this translation of a video of the press conference.]
According to Dr E.S.Rajendran who practices in Kerala “The total number of people who received the homeopathic preventive medicine Ars alb 30 through Kerala government as on June 1st was 10 million. An equal number of people have also received the same through voluntary organisations. The remaining population is expected to receive the preventive medicine in another one month.” This distribution was carried out in each district with the help of resident associations and was achievable because there is a huge demand for homeopathy from the people.
Rapid Action Epidemic Control Cell – Homeopathy
The Government of Kerala started the Rapid Action Epidemic Control Cell Homoeopathy (RAECH) in 2004. RAECH supervised recent epidemic control measures using homeopathy:
- Distributed preventive medicines
- Conducted medical camps
- Designed health awareness programmes
- Conducted seminars throughout Kerala, wherever epidemics break out.
For the past five years they were successful in ‘contributing a remarkable role in prevention activities.’ According to RAECH, the efficacy of Homoeopathic prophylaxis medicine in prevention of epidemics was well established during an epidemic of Chikungunea.
The people and the government of Kerala has appreciated the work of RAECH in prevention of Cholera, Gastroenteritis, Japanese encephalitis, Dengue, and Chikungunea.
Respectful, sustainable and harmonious
To summarise, Kerala health care deserves the praise it gets. It has achieved a lot through decentralised governance and people’s participation in community development as well as the use of homeopathy as prevention. As with any state in India there are remaining challenges and progress continues towards making health care affordable, accessible, respectful, sustainable, harmonious and responsive, especially in epidemics.
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