Pune-based Samir Ghosh, a London School of Economics (LSE) alumnus who has the World Bank, the United National Development programme, and Unicef on his resume, believes that data available from the 2011 census for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad can help the administration fine-tune its Covid-19 containment strategy to ensure the most vulnerable are best safeguarded and treated.

Ghosh, who is a consultant with the Maharashtra government has also been appointed by the Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporation (PCMC) to prepare and implement a comprehensive social development plan for the most vulnerable groups in Pune district.

Ghosh said, “A detailed community health plan can be rolled out more scientifically and better targeted to the population of the most vulnerable sections mentioned in the 2011 census report. The budget allocation for each of these health parameters can also be defined better and bring out the desired results in curtailing the spread of the Covid disease.”

Ghosh has crunched the numbers from the 2011 census and points out that as per the data, in Pune district, 15.86 lakh residents are above the age of 50 and 8.56 lakh are 60-years-old and above.

“This is the high-risk category for contracting Covid-19, due to age,” Ghosh says, adding, “census data can effectively help the state focus on other vulnerable groups as well; like the disabled, elderly persons with physical and intellectual disabilities and transgenders.”

The data analysed further shows that 9.08 per cent of the elderly population in the district is aged 60 and above, while 16.82 per cent of the population is aged 50 and above.

Census data enumerated by Ghosh further states that 25.24 of the disabled population in the district is 50- years-old and above, and 15.21 per cent are 60-years –old and above.

Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said, “Our basic target is to reach the old people who are vulnerable and have comorbid conditions. Our mission is to reduce the death rate and this data is becoming a part of our strategy to tackle the crisis. This data and the mathematical model of the census figure will help us fight Covid-19.”

BJ Kerkar (86), general secretary, Insurance Pensional Association (Life and General), said, “Majority of the Covid-19 deaths which are being reported happen to be among the elderly. The population percentage which is available as per the 2011 census must be checked by the state and effective implementation of strategy can significantly reduce the spread of the contagion. The most vulnerable sections like senior citizens, physically challenged and the poor, must be the focus of the government. ”

Number crunching PCMC data into an effective strategy

Specifically in the PCMC, Ghosh works as a consultant to help the civic body understand the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as high risk factors for the Covid-19 mortality rate.

Sample data is collected from the records of PCMC dispensaries and hospitals.

“This research, as well as data sourced from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the National Family Health Service (NFHS), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and papers presented by expert committees at the international epidemiological conference at the United Nations, is extrapolated onto the PCMC population as per the 2011 Census, with the decadal growth factor taken into consideration,” Ghosh says.

Ghosh states that there are 1,191 persons with multiple disabilities aged 50-years and above in PCMC.

Similarly, 547 persons aged 50 and above in PCMC have intellectual disabilities, which accounts for 8.73 per cent of the area’s elderly.

The total population in PCMC aged 50 years and above in PCMC is 2.90 lakh.

Regarding the PCMC data, Ghosh said, “We see that the Covid response plan should be prepared in a targeted manner for a minimum of 76,392 and a maximum of 5,65,500 of population in the PCMC area. Further, it may be noted that the additional most vulnerable sections are persons with severe disability who come with co-morbid conditions such as reduced lung function or heart conditions, or both. Similarly, the transgender population, who are approximately 650 in number in the PCMC area, also have a reduced immunity level since a large number of them are HIV positive.”