There are cows grazing everywhere, the sick are laying under a tree, and their glucose drips are hanging from the branches.
This is a village in northern India that’s been engulfed by COVID-19.
There’s no doctor or medical facility in Mewla Gopalgarh in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The closest hospital has no beds, and the villagers can’t afford private care.
So instead, villagers who practice a form of alternative medicine have set up an open-air clinic where they distribute their own remedies.
The tree is an example. It’s called a neem tree, which does have some uses in medicine. The villagers hope that by sitting underneath it, it will raise their oxygen levels. But there’s no scientific basis for this belief.
Sanjay Singh’s father is believed to have died of COVID-19.
“People have no option but to go to quack doctors. This is leading to deaths in the village. When a proper doctor won’t have a look at the patient, where else will they go? There is no scope for getting oxygen, such is the situation. When patients get out of breath, they go to the trees to improve their oxygen levels.”
Rural areas are faring even worse conditions as healthcare facilities are threadbare there. In this village, people are just making do as best they can.