By Narayan Adhikari, CHITWAN:- The Chepangs in the district are refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 even as the risk of a third wave of the pandemic is high lately. It is found that the people of this minority community are not much interested in vaccination.
The Chepangs live in six out of the seven local levels in Chitwan district. They are found living in Icchyakamana rural municipality, the Kalika, Rapti, Khairahani and Madi municipalities and the Bharatpur Sub-Metropolitan City.
The population of Chepangs in these municipalities was 28, 989 as per the 2011 Census. Of this population, so far 6,327 people or 21.82 percent of this community have been vaccinated.
Chief of the Rapti Municipality Health Section, Suresh Neupane said since the Chepangs mostly live in remote parts and hilly regions of the district they are reluctant to travel to the vaccination centres. As Neupane said the Chepang community people are also not aware that they need to be vaccinated to keep themselves safe from the pandemic. “They are not just interested in getting vaccinated. They say – what’s the use of vaccination?”
Chief of Icchyakamana Rural Municipality Health Section, Basudev Sapkota said the number of Chepang population coming for vaccination will increase now that the vaccination is rolled out according to the age groups.
Bharatpur Metropolitan City Health Section Chief Deepak Subedi said there is small population of Chepangs in the metropolis. He said many Chepangs living in Ratomate, Chipleti and Kipat areas have not come for the vaccination. “They are not turning up for the vaccination despite organizing vaccination camps at their settlements,” he complained.
In the view of Madi Municipality Health Section Chief, Bhoj Raj Khanal, the lack of information about vaccination among the Chepang community who are scattered over large and remote parts is one of the reasons regarding their reluctance to get vaccinated.
Govinda Chepang, former central president of Chepang Association, said the participation of the Chepang community is very low in the vaccination programme. “Only few people from this community have come for the jabs also because of the wrong publicity regarding the vaccines – like the vaccines affecting the reproductive health.” He stressed the need of preparing the publicity materials about the vaccination in the Chepang language.
As per the National Population Census 2011, the population of Chepangs is 68,399 throughout the country. Chepangs are predominantly settled in Chitwan, Makawanpur, Dhading, Gorkha, Lamjung, Tanahu districts.
Chepang Association Chitwan president Bhim Bahadur Chepang reasoned that Chepangs are not coming in large numbers for vaccination as they live in remote hills. He said only those living near the vaccination centres have been turning up for getting the shots. Chepang urged for an effective publicity campaign about the vaccination.
Chief of the Health Office Chitwan, Deepak Tiwari said the problem is because of the various ‘negative propaganda’ spread against the Coronavirus infection. He speculated that the number of Chepangs coming for vaccination is low also because the Chepang community is not directly in contact with the urban life.
Saying the District Health Office only managed the vaccination, he urged the local governments to intensify the publicity campaign and make it more effective so that maximum population is convinced and comes for the vaccination.
“Provisions for vaccination has been made at each local level wards. It is the weakness of the community not to come to the vaccination centre at the ward for getting vaccinated,” he said.
The District Health Office said so far 370 thousand 544 people in Chitwan district have been vaccinated. Among them, 320 thousand and nine have taken two doses. RSS
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