India’s coronavirus crisis is worse since the pandemic began, and it will probably worsen before it gets better. Hospitals and clinics around the country are facing a shortage of essential supplies, including beds, oxygen, drugs, vaccines, and COVID-19 tests.
Hope shone in this dark tragedy through the work of NGOs—a catchall term for the roughly 3 million nonprofits working across the country — who have risen to the occasion and ramped up aid efforts. They are leveraging their extensive reach with community leaders and a large volunteer base in the community. They all know that a pandemic response rooted in cooperation makes everyone safer.
In the face of infrastructural collapse, civil society groups are stepping forward to meet the needs of the moment. It would not have been possible for the government alone to holistically address the pandemic — develop, implement and ensure that assistance reached the last mile. We see that every day, in the heroic work of health care workers, first responders, and everyday people reaching out to lend each other a hand.
Mhaswad is a mere blip on India’s vast geographic radar but the women there are in the vanguard of a social revolution that is transforming the lives of low-income women in western Maharashtra. The harbinger of this transformative movement is the Mann Deshi Foundation set up in 1996 by a trained economist Chetna Gala Sinha who combines her intellect with a rare brand of passion and determination for rural uplift.
The rich social capital built over the years by Mann Deshi is now being harnessed to provide relief to those affected by the current crisis. More than 10,000 frontline workers (including ASHA workers) are creating awareness about the preventive aspects imposed by social distancing restrictions, delivering clear public health messaging, implementing testing and contact tracing and distributing medical protective gear including facemasks and gloves and other medical and relief material. 6 lakh masks have been distributed, providing income support to local entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing face masks and protective gear.
For the least fortunate segments of the population, more economic pain is a virtual certainty. An already stretched health system has proved incapable of tracing, isolation, and quarantine. Sinha’s team is operating two hospitals in Satara district under PPP model, in collaboration with the district government and corporate partners. It has launched a fully oxygenated 350-bed facility designed specifically to house and care for COVID patients. It is fully equipped with ventilators, jumbo oxygen cylinders, CR system, etc. It has also set up a 20-bed quarantine centre for covid positive patients in Mhaswad.
Sinha is leveraging local medical infrastructure for expertise, equipment, training and triage and treatment services. Her organization has partnered with a private hospital in Mann taluka to provide free CT scan facilities for women and girls. It is also constructing and operationalising its own medical diagnostics and consultancy centre in Mhaswad. A dedicated Mann Deshi Oxygen Bank provides oxygen concentrators to Covid positive patients across the Satara district for seven days, free of cost.
NGOs like Hemkunt Foundation, Unity and Dignity Foundation, Seva Sahayog and Khushiyaan Foundation are doing exemplary work on the same lines. They are also providing free oxygen cylinders and services to patients in need. It is up to responsible citizens like you and me to support their noble cause in any way we possibly can.
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