Dharavi Model Goes Global: Philippines Uses BMC’s “Chase the Virus” Policy to Tackle Surge in Cases


Dharavi Model Goes Global: Philippines Uses BMC’s “Chase the Virus” Policy to Tackle Surge in Cases

As coronavirus cases continue to surge and more is learnt about the virus, local administrators have developed specific solutions keeping their regions, resources and constraints in mind. The World Health Organization has hailed the “Kerala Model” for its effectiveness in contact tracing and flattening the curve. Similarly, the “Bhilwara Model” from Rajasthan was the talk of town, for its effectiveness in containment measures.

And now, the “Dharavi Model” from Mumbai is going international, with the Philippines government looking to follow it to contain the spread of the coronavirus in densely populated slum areas of the country.

The BMC, which has been leading the fight in Mumbai, has shared the Dharavi blueprint, called the “chase the virus policy”, with the Philippine government’s health department.

“This is recognition of our effort. Earlier, India was following the model of other countries but now other countries have taken notice of our fight,” BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal said in conversation with India Today.

Philippines news based portal Inquirer praised the Dharavi model, stating “Social distancing and lockdowns are almost impossible in large slums. But with the cooperation of local leaders, the BMC concentrated on rigorous contact tracing, created large quarantine facilities and isolated vulnerable people. Community toilets were regularly cleaned to maintain hygiene and treatment and testing were ramped up with the cooperation of private hospitals.”

Dharavi was a major COVID-19 hotspot until June, but saw a sharp decline in cases in July. On one day in this period, the region recorded only a single case. And on Monday, it added just four new cases. The average growth rate of confirmed cases in Dharavi has gone down from 12 percent in April to 0.38 percent in July, while the average doubling rate of cases, which was 18 days in April, now stands at 430 days.

The Philippines’ total confirmed cases, on the other hand, have risen to 1.69 lakh, with the death toll standing at 2,687. The government now believes that there is a lot to learn from the Dharavi model for them, as well as other densely populated regions in developing countries.

The fight against the coronavirus in Dharavi, meanwhile, continues. The Mumbai civic body has started phase two of the ser-surveillance study in the city to assess the spread of the virus. The serosurvey conducted in the first half of July had revealed that 57 percent of the slum population that was surveyed had developed antibodies.

As the coronavirus cases in India surge to over 2.7 million, the recovery rate is constantly improving, fatality rate has dropped below 2 percent and clinical trials for vaccines have shown positive developments. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and all we need to do is keep at it, wearing masks, using sanitisers and following social distancing protocols. We could all learn a bit of discipline from the people of Dharavi.