Viola Maida explains the current crisis in India - and how we can all play a part in helping.
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected the life of every single person in the world. Some have been affected more than others: a discrepancy largely dependent on the country you live in.
Over the past few months, people in India have been facing a devastating health crisis, as the second wave of Coronavirus slowly engulfs their nation. Images of individuals begging hospitals to rescue their family members have been emerging over the news and social media. Roads are filled with tuk-tuks carrying dying people, and pavements are flooded with family members dragging their sick loved ones on makeshift trolleys. Seeing this, my hope that we are slowly returning to ‘normality’ shatters, and as I walk past the joyful beer gardens within the streets of Leeds, I truly acknowledge my privilege.
On May 2nd 2021, India’s health ministry reported 3,689 deaths within the last 24 hours, leading the total death toll to reach 215,000. To put that into perspective, The UK’s total number of Coronavirus deaths is roughly 151,243. The surge of India’s fatalities is due to the lack of testing, insufficient PPE, and an overwhelming shortage of hospital beds and life-saving supplies, primarily medical oxygen. Because of India’s healthcare system’s deficiencies, many patients are being turned down and left to die at the doors of emergency care units.
Critically ill cases are now pleading for help over social media; for instance, an Indian Journalist used Twitter to showcase how the hospital he was admitted to was not fulfilling his desperate request for oxygen. He died a few days after his tweet. According to Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, “India’s health system is on the verge of collapse”, as he predicts that circumstances are likely to worsen. Most shockingly, the black market is benefiting from this tragedy, as sellers have been raising the prices of oxygen cylinders, making people brawl over the opportunity for survival.
As the deaths pile up, India’s crematoriums are being overwhelmed with the number of COVID-19 victims. In Delhi, India’s capital, crematory workers have been forced to assemble rough funeral pyres to mass cremate the dead more efficiently. India is dealing with a humanitarian crisis. At the core of this catastrophe is India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to impose a national lockdown, as the Indian government fears this decision would have a negative economic impact. It is a story all too familiar, that the complacency and greed of senior leaders are at the expense of vulnerable people’s lives. I am not assuming that COVID-19 health crises are limited to India, but when the government of the second-largest populated country in the world slips up, it is difficult for us to grapple with the amount of damage being done.
Countries worldwide have been offering their help, as medical equipment and emergency supplies have been sent from the US, UK and Germany, to name a few. Additionally, the US has also lifted the embargo on exporting raw material overseas to assist India’s vaccine industry. As foreign governments begin helping the suffering state, I question how we, individuals watching this traumatic occurrence from afar, can support India during this time of need. Here are a few ways in which you can help, wherever you are:
Donate to Charities and Crowdfunding Initiatives
GiveIndia is a non-profit organisation with several funds and missions, from donating boost oxygen supplies to supporting families of COVID-19 deceased family members. Recently they have launched India Covid Response Fund (ICRF)-2, aiming to support the overwhelmed health infrastructure, and provide meals for families who are struggling financially during the pandemic.
UNICEF has already begun supporting the response to the current emergency in India. Donating to their website would mean helping with the delivery of oxygen concentrators and the supply of PPE kits for healthcare workers.
The Democracy People foundation has started a charitable initiative that donates oxygen concentrators to Indian hospitals. They have procured 3,900 concentrators from China, but further funds would enable the acquisition of more oxygen devices.
ActionAid is an International non-governmental organisation that has been supporting individuals in India since 1972. Recently, it is planning to use funds to distribute safety kits across India, including PPE for burials. It is also organizing vaccination camps to assist with the nation’s vaccination rollout plan.
The Daivik Foundation is raising money to support the purchase of oxygen concentrator machines to further help those affected by India’s Covid Crisis. They have already managed to deliver 250 units of 5L oxygen concentrators.
Additionally, Time Magazine has recently shared a Google Document created by fundraisers and activists who have compiled a list of crowdfunding initiatives that directly help individual families and people.