Explained: The role of DETER committees formed in Bengaluru to streamline Covid management at local level

Decentralized Triage and Emergency Response (DETER) Committees at ward-levels are being formed in the Karnataka capital, which will be overseen by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.

As Bengaluru continues to witness a daily surge in fresh Covid-19 infections and related fatalities, the state government has decided to manage pandemic at the local level. On the orders of the state government, Decentralized Triage and Emergency Response (DETER) Committees at ward-levels are being formed in the Karnataka capital, which will be overseen by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.

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What are DETER committees?

Decentralized Triage and Emergency Response (DETER) committees have been formed across 198 wards in Bengaluru with the objective to strengthen government response and management of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also known as WDCs (Ward-level DETER Committees), these teams will emphasise on the distribution of localised action in a decentralised system of disaster response. They will be run in synergy with BBMP officials, ward committee members, government officers, representatives of the peoples, volunteers from resident welfare associations, civil society organisations, and disaster-support initiatives. This is expected to improve supervision for better ward-level Covid governance. WDCs will function on open-source technology with a suitable online platform identified by the BBMP for the same.

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What will be the major responsibilities of WDCs?

WDCs will emerge as the first-point contact for those infected with Covid-19. These committees will also be entrusted with the responsibility to provide timely and accurate information to citizens on appropriate actions and behaviours that need to be taken at each stage of the Covid lifecycle.

WDCs will also share information on triaging — the process by which the need of patients whether to be in home isolation or to be admitted to stabilisation centres, hospitals and then whether to access hospital beds with/without oxygen or ventilators is determined — and take appropriate steps to enable contact tracing and testing.

Further, those in home isolation will be supported in a bid to minimise the burden to hospitals. Further, grievance redressal and escalate citizen needs, if any, and mobilisation of resources and essential medical supplies in the ward will also be carried out by the WDCS. While achieving universal vaccination in an efficient manner is another responsibility, in an event of death, WDCs are expected to help families connect with the hearse van and the crematorium team (or volunteers at burial grounds).

What is the main strategy to be in place for WDCs?

The Karnataka government has formulated a ‘3E Strategy’ for WDCs to micromanage Covid-19 in a comprehensive manner. The 3E Strategy is explained as follows: Efficient admission to hospitals facilitated by community triage services; Efficient discharge from hospitals enabling efficient bed-turnover; Empowering hospitals, doctors, and their management with supportive supervision.

What role will resident associations, civil society organisations play?

Resident groups and civil society organisations (CSOs) will suggest changes to improve the decentralisation process. They will also ensure all organisations working towards Covid relief are brought under a single umbrella of the WDCs. For organisations that are present across the city, the government has suggested their members to join WDCs in their respective wards.

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