India vs Virus: voices from the COVID front line

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Robin Pomeroy, Digital Editor, World Economic Forum


India has been one of the countries hardest hit by COVID 19 – with almost half a million killed by the virus, it ranks third in the world for COVID deaths, behind the USA and Brazil.

And the virus has also had a huge impact on people’s jobs, incomes and education, and has hit those people and organisations involved in providing vital services.

In April 2020, the WEF launched the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs to mobilize support for grassroots organisations that are helping local communities survive. To pay tribute to those groups, and drum up wider support, it has just published a list of 50 of those doing vital work in India, and in this episode of Radio Davos, we hear from a handful of them, providing everything from food aid, medical care, vaccines and looking out for the often neglected needs of women and children.

Organisations featured in this episode:

Every Infant Matters, a non-profit, works in India, Kenya, Nigeria and the Dominican Republic. The organization’s flagship project is giving vitamin A to malnourished children to prevent permanent blindness. It has saved some 63,500 children from the terrible consequences of hunger and dewormed 54,000 children. It has also given prenatal supplements to 41,700 pregnant women. It has imparted holistic health education with a focus on promoting gender equality to 69,600 families.

COVID-19 Response: Every Infant Matters has provided 3,800 meals daily to migrants, sex workers, and manual scavengers. It has co-created a COVID Care Centre in a Manipur village and supports two others. It has so far distributed 50,000 sanitizers, several thousand personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and masks, 55 oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, BiPaP ventilators and more. The organization’s task force has fulfilled needs (admission, ventilators, accessing ICU beds) for 22,400 COVID-19 patients.

ARMMAN leverages mobile health with existing government and NGO healthcare worker networks to increase access among pregnant women/mothers to preventive information, while also training healthcare workers. Its goal is to reduce maternal and child mortality. Its cost-effective, scalable and evidence-based programmes have reached 24 million women and children, and trained 187,000 health workers in 17 Indian states.

COVID-19 Response: ARMMAN, a non-profit, sent essential information on COVID-19 to 300,000 women (about pregnancy/infancy) and 800,000 government health workers on their mobile phones. As many as 15,600 pregnant women and children accessed free consultations with doctors through the Virtual Out Patient Department or Clinic, while 60,300 people from the community were linked with healthcare services. The foundation has been providing training to 220,000 frontline health workers (accredited social health activists, auxiliary nurse midwife and Anganwadi workers) on managing COVID-19 cases.

Antarang Foundation facilitates informed and aspirational school-to-work transitions for young adults from socio-economically vulnerable backgrounds. Over the last eight years, the Foundation has enabled more than 100,000 young adults to get on to the career pathways of their choice by embedding career planning and career readiness into the mainstream education curriculum.

COVID-19 Response: Immediate Relief – Antarang Foundation provided internet data packs to students and their families and provided rations to 75,000 people from containment zones in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. It also produced and distributed masks to communities and frontline workers in public health facilities. Recovery – it provided telephone counselling for adolescents and young adults, mental health training and resilience building for frontline staff, and job placement for young adults and their families. Adapting to the “New Normal” – the foundation started a WhatsApp Chat Bot to provide 24/7 counselling, and provided entrepreneurship incubation support for microbusinesses.

Karuna Trust is a public charitable trust based in Karnataka. The organization manages 71 healthcare centres in five states in India covering a population of 1.5 million. Karuna Trust’s interventions have use a public-private partnership (PPP) model, with the objective of providing universal, affordable and comprehensive primary healthcare. Its goal is to make healthcare accessible to the most underserved and poor populations in remote tribal, hilly and insurgency areas.

COVID-19 Response: Karuna Trust has directed its COVID-19 response at the 1.5 million people who benefited from the PHCs (primary healthcare centres) it manages. These PHCs became nodal centres, disseminating information on COVID-19, conducting community-based screening and enforcing infection control measures. As of July 2021, 90,000 people have been vaccinated through PHCs managed by the organization.

Dasra acts as a catalyst in India’s philanthropy sector by driving collaborative action to accelerate social change. It works to build partnerships with hundreds of non-profits in India and philanthropists from around the world.

COVID-19 Response: Through its #BacktheFrontline campaign Dasra has supported and channelled resources to more than 80 NGOs in over 20 states in India, helping them accelerate their COVID-19 relief efforts, which are focused on awareness, immediate care, medical support, training and capacity building of frontline workers, mental health support, financial assistance, skilling and livelihoods. It is working on continuing support efforts to reach 150 non-profits at the frontlines.

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