India’s Covid-19 cases hit their lowest number in a year and a half as leaders celebrate the administration of one billion doses of vaccine, a striking change in the course since the virus caused serious tens of thousands of deaths earlier this year. Since the peak of Covid-19 cases in May 2021, Direct Relief has participated in several medical aid airlifts across the country as it battles the pandemic, infusing the country’s medical system with financial support, a delivery of oxygen and infrastructure, PPE, drugs and more.
A growing threat
When Covid-19 initially hit India, the country appeared to be resisting the pandemic relatively well. A lockdown was initiated and the virus appeared to be largely under control, peaking in mid-September 2020. But then, in February 2021, after massive crowds attended political rallies, religious festivals and large-scale weddings. scale, a second wave has started with rapidly rising case numbers. Urban and rural areas have been hit hard as the deadly disease spread from north to south and east and from cities to more isolated and remote areas and communities.
In April, many hospitals were running out of space, especially in northern urban communities. Intensive care units were full and the lack of beds, combined with insufficient access to oxygen – the demand for which had tripled due to the increase and severity of cases – led to many patients being turned down. and a race against time for family members. oxygen cylinders only. India’s daily Covid-19 death toll hit a number of records in May, with the World Health Organization saying the country accounted for half of all reported cases worldwide and 30% of deaths in the world. world.
Direct Relief had previously supported facilities in India as part of its broad global response efforts to Covid-19, but additional international assistance with the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical material resources, including oxygen devices and ICU mediations, and financial assistance was clearly needed to protect health care providers and treat patients effectively. With the support of generous donors, Direct Relief has dramatically increased its assistance efforts to help cope with the huge increase in cases, hospitalizations and oxygen demand.
Support of the response
As the situation deteriorates dramatically in India, Direct Relief has prepared a number of large emergency donations and, as of April 2021, has delivered 750 tonnes of aid with a total wholesale value of $ 601.6 million through the provision of 334 shipments containing:
• 6,665 oxygen concentration units
• 29.6 million defined daily doses (DDD) of Covid-19 ancillary drugs such as antibiotics, vasopressors, sedatives, immunosuppressants and albuterol inhalers
• 7,610,788 million units of PPE including masks, gowns, gloves, goggles and face shields
In addition, Direct Relief has provided cash grants designed to increase the capacity of medical facilities to safely and effectively treat patients with Covid-19, as well as to build their resilience so that they are better prepared to manage the conditions. epidemics of infectious diseases in the future.
Emergency shipments containing oxygen concentrators, medical supplies and PPE were packed at Direct Relief’s warehouse in California, transported by air freight and delivered to healthcare facilities supporting Covid-19 patients in all the countries.
The emergency shipments were transported with the support of FedEx, which provided three full 777 planes to deliver the bulk of the cargo. Direct Relief has also mobilized several commercial deliveries of oxygen devices, medicines, consumable and durable supplies, PPE and other medical aids to India.
In order to combat the nationwide spread of Covid-19, PPE and medical supplies were to be provided to health facilities in urban centers as well as distributed to affected states and regions to ensure that aid reached the places it was needed. she had to reach. The medical products in these emergency shipments were delivered to 29 partners – hospitals, local health departments, state ministries of health and other health care organizations. A number of these partners further distributed part of the donated goods to other facilities across the country that were caring for populations and communities affected by Covid.
To view additional details on Direct Relief’s response in India, see the interactive map.
In addition to viewing information on Direct Relief’s emergency shipments, details can be viewed on the redistribution of medical supplies received by the Tata Memorial Center partner facilities in Mumbai and Delhi and the delivery of oxygen concentrators. through ACT grants. The Tata Memorial Center is a hospital and cancer research institute in Mumbai that served as consignee and distributor of the Covid-19 related PPE, drugs, ventilators and oxygen concentrators contained in each of the three FedEx humanitarian flights in from the United States. These products, including 3,426 oxygen concentrators and more than 250,000 N95 masks, were distributed to a total of 60 healthcare partners.
Direct Relief also supported ACT grants to facilitate the purchase and transportation of oxygen concentrators which, once in India, were distributed to 2,444 health facilities, organizations and agencies. Using epidemiological and predictive analytics data, hubs have reached hot spots, including many rural districts with much less infrastructure, resources and visibility than urban centers. Recipient locations included the remote islands of Andaman and Nicobar in India, located in the Bay of Bengal, where Direct Relief had rebuilt local health centers following the 2004 tsunami in South Asia. To date, ACT Grants has distributed 28,929 oxygen concentrators across India. (Direct Relief has received financial contributions from US-based donors on behalf of ACT Grants to ensure compliance with Indian tax regulations.)
In addition to ongoing medical equipment support, Direct Relief has provided grants to India-based partners and key projects to strengthen healthcare facilities as they continue to provide healthcare services to Covid-19 patients. and affected communities and prepare for any future waves.
Given the critical need and scarcity of oxygen during the crisis, one of the main areas of focus is ensuring sustainable access to oxygen through the provision of devices and construction or rehabilitation. oxygen generating plants. Responding effectively to the acute oxygen crisis now by increasing capacity will simultaneously meet chronic oxygen needs and improve a sustainable health care infrastructure that will enable the treatment of a range of respiratory diseases.
To date, Direct Relief has identified, controlled and supported the following facilities and organizations with $ 4.1 million in cash grants to enable them to respond to and recover from the Covid-19 crisis as well as maintain services health services to vulnerable populations during the crisis.
Direct Relief will direct additional grants towards:
- Effectively and safely treat patients with Covid-19
- Conducting Covid-19 Education Awareness Services
- Improve access to medical grade oxygen
- Increase the capacity of partners to manage temperature-sensitive Covid-19 therapies and vaccines
- Administer Covid-19 vaccinations and vaccination campaigns
- Support the provision of essential health services to at-risk communities made more vulnerable by long-term lockdowns, food shortages, socio-economic hardship
Direct Relief also supported Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, a 1,000-bed multi-specialty hospital located in the city of Pune. Founded in 2001, it is one of the largest hospitals in the region, with more than 800 beds, 12 operating theaters, an intensive care unit, a blood bank, digital radiology units and kidney transplantation, as well as many diagnostics, therapies, and critical care services. Patients who cannot afford to pay for care on a sliding scale or at no cost.
Direct Relief has been in partnership with DMH since its creation in 2001. The city of Pune has been particularly affected by Covid-19 and since March 2020, DMH has treated more than 33,000 patients with coronavirus, which is the highest number of cases managed by all. private hospital in India. Of the total cases, 19,897 were treated on an outpatient basis while 13,431 were admitted for care. The hospital has also managed numerous cases of post-covid complications, including serious bacterial and fungal infections.
In an effort to improve the life-saving Covid-19 treatment at the facility, Direct Relief provided a grant to DMH to:
- Build an Oxygen Concentration Plant inside the hospital to deliver uninterrupted high flow medical grade oxygen to the facility.
- Purchase specialized equipment to enable rapid and accurate identification of bacteria, mycobacteria and certain fungal pathogens in the clinical microbiology laboratory.
- Establish and equip a Covid Center for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases to improve diagnostic and therapeutic practices for Covid-19 and other serious diseases.
The hospital was also behind the vaccination against Covid-19, with 175,000 people vaccinated to date.
The number of Covid-19 cases in India has declined significantly in recent months, but variants remain a concern and there is still a possibility that a third wave will hit the country. However, thousands of Indian health facilities are now much better prepared to handle another influx of cases due to the assistance received in the areas of oxygen access, availability of therapies and more vaccinations. recent, and additional stocks of PPE and other necessary supplies and equipment.