BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, June 11, 2021: Even as India battles the devastating second wave of the pandemic, with a slow-paced progress on the horizon, the strain placed on the Indian healthcare system by the current surge in coronavirus cases is but evident.
India first detected the B.1.617 variant, the “double mutant” in October last year. The variant has since been reported in at least 17 countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Singapore.
India has reported 28,047,534 cases, 329,127 deaths and 25,692,342
recoveries, as of May 31, 2021. To date, only 2.1% of India’s 1.4 billion
people are fully vaccinated.
Recognizing the need of the hour, several Atlanta-based Indian American organizations, individuals, foundations and companies have risen to the occasion, sending necessary supplies and aid in varied forms and different avenues. NRI Pulse recognizes these humanitarian acts in our series, Giving, Dil Se in the times of COVID-19.
Sewa International has stepped up efforts immensely, gathering everything from required medical supplies to ground personnel to aid India during her time of crisis. The many areas of Sewa’s relief efforts include shipment of life-saving equipment, health and hygiene kits, essential kits, covid care centers, isolation centers, digital helpdesk, emotional well-being, and awareness campaigns through is wide network of over 14,000 volunteers including partner organization and over 386 helpdesk volunteers.
Sewa International has partnered with well over 185 organizations including UPS, ITServe Alliance, Pragathi, AIM for SEVA, AAPI, Medshare, Evolve, Stratus, Klick, Carvana, Surya Carpets among others.
As of May 27, 2021, Sewa has provided 9605 concentrators, 40, 500 Pulse oximeters, 250 ventilators, 12,000 accessories such as Humidifier, Nasal Cannula, 1170 BIPAP and CPAP machines, over 10,000 health and hygiene kits, and over 5000 home isolation kits. Sewa has also set up 106 covid care centers, 258 isolation centers.
Apart from India Sewa has also extended aid to Nepal, sending 98 5L concentrators, 8 10L concentrators, 540 oximeters, PPEs.
Swadesh Katoch, VP, Disaster Recovery at Sewa International recalls the first meeting on April 23, 2021 which was held to discuss various ways in which Sewa could support India with shortage of oxygen. After successfully procuring thousands of oxygen concentrators, Sewa International is gearing up to setup 100 oxygen generation plants in India, having ordered 20-tonn Zeolites (molecular sieves that absorb nitrogen and produce oxygen as a product) from Honeywell to establish up to 30 plants immediately. As part of these efforts, it has placed orders for 15 oxygen generation plants to be set up within 3 months at an approximate cost $1.8 million. Sewa’s fundraising campaign towards these efforts lists a donation of $61,000, $81,000 or $121,000 can help establish oxygen plants of varied sizes.
Having identified three vendors from India for supply machinery, SI’s first 15 plants will be a mix of 250 LPM and 500 LPM capacity and each can support about 20 to 40 ICU beds. The oxygen generation plants are currently slated to be installed at charitable hospitals in the rural and tribal areas and second and third tier cities.
In an attempt to relieve the strain placed on the Indian healthcare system by the current upsurge in cases, the American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI) and Sewa International have partnered with eGlobalDoctors (https://eglobaldoctors.com/#/) to provide medical advice for COVID-19 patients from India via telehealth. This online platform gives patients an opportunity to meet privately with volunteer medical professionals, who offer counseling with the aim of identifying those with mild or severe cases of infection. Sewa volunteers have been instrumental in facilitating these one-on-one sessions, matching patients to doctors who speak the same language and placing them in a private breakout consultation room.
.“COVID-19 is 30th disaster for us. Right now, 300+ volunteers in India and around 150 volunteers in US are engaged just with helpdesk,” said Katoch in answer to how Sewa International mobilizes support and aid so efficiently and effectively in a short period of time “COVID-19 is not the first disaster for Sewa International. Gujrat Earthquake in India in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in USA in 2005 were the first disaster that we mobilized our volunteers. Since then, we have worked on all major disasters including Hurricane Harvey in Houston, IRMA, Nepal earthquake, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Uttarakhand floods. Sewa International has been able to generate donations in 25 countries under ‘Help India’ campaign. 14,000+ Sewa International and its partner organizations volunteers are engaged in COVID-19 relief activities in India. 1000s of concentrators are procured and distributed across all states in India. 40,000+ oximeters are being distributed. Trying to setup 100 oxygen generation plants across India. Beside India, medical equipments are being sent to Nepal, Trinidad, Surinam, Guyana,” he noted.
Sewa International Nepal in collaboration with its partner organizations initiated thier first COVID isolation center in Aggrawal Kendra in Kathmandu, Nepal on Monday, May 17, which was inaugurated by Vinay Mohan Kwatra, the Indian Ambassador to Nepal. The COVID Care Center has 22 rooms that accommodate two patients each. It also has three big dormitories that house more than 80 beds. If required, bed capacity can be increased to 150 in these dormitories. Sewa International has also started work in three other places in Nepal where food and basic medicines are being distributed to people in need.
Sewa International (www.sewausa.org) is a 501 (c)(3) Hindu faith-based charitable nonprofit that works in the areas of disaster recovery, education, and development. Sewa has 43 Chapters across the USA and serves regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin.
BAPS Charities fortified its efforts throughout its global network and partner organizations through various avenues including fundraisers, and supply of critical material and equipment which aided partner hospitals in India. Staff and volunteers at each of various BAPS locations are working towards providing intensive care services including ventilators, oxygen, and contemporary and appropriate medical therapy to the most critically ill to providing humanitarian support with meals and other daily necessities to all those affected by the pandemic. The BAPS Pramukh Swami Hospital at Surat houses 150 beds, BAPS Yogiji Maharaj Hospital Amdavad houses 50 beds, BAPS Shastriji Maharaj Hospital Atladara (Vadodara) houses 135 beds, and BAPS Hospital Botad houses 60 beds. As of May 14, 2021, these hospitals have successfully treated and discharged 3,518 individuals. In addition to these four locations, volunteers are working in collaboration with the GMERS Hospital from Gotri, which has set up a temporary 500-bed facility in Atladara (Vadodara).
Funds collected by BAPS Charities throughout the world are also being used to further procure oxygen concentrators and other essential equipment and approved medicines to continue supporting those in need. Thus far, BAPS Charities have donated 1,035 oxygen concentrators and 600 oxygen cylinders that were distributed in Gujarat, New Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab.
Jigar Patel, local volunteer for BAPS Charities added, “The pandemic has affected hundreds of thousands in India and continues to cause much suffering. BAPS Charities continues its efforts to alleviate some of that pain and suffering. We appreciate the confidence and trust that many of our supporters have instilled in this effort to provide medical care, supplies, equipment and other much needed help.”
BAPS Charities is a global charity active in nine countries across five continents. Volunteers drive its efforts, dedicating a portion of their lives in selfless service of others, both in their local neighborhoods as well as globally.