With India immersed in a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases, microblogging giant Twitter has announced it has donated $15 million to help the country through the wave.
The amount has been donated to three non-governmental organizations – Care, Aid India and Sewa International USA – according to news releases.
Tweeted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: "USD 15 million split between @CARE, @AIDINDIA, and @sewausato help address the COVID-19 crisis in India."
A total of $2.5 million will be used by Sewa International to support the procurement of life-saving equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, BiPap and CPAP machines.
Sewa shipped 260 Inogen oxygen concentrators, 1,000 oximeters and nine BiPap machines from New York on May 7, the organization said in a news release.
UPS Foundation partnered with Sewa International to ship them to New Delhi by air for free. MedShare, a non-profit organization that sources and delivers surplus medical supplies and equipment to communities in need, donated the concentrators, it added.
So far, Sewa says it has spent over $3.5 million to order 7,482 oxygen concentrators and procured 5,118 of them from various vendors in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Sewa has shipped 2,844 of them and 2,084 of them have reached India. They are being distributed to government hospitals and COVID-19 care centers and hospitals run by Sewa’s partner organizations, the organization said.
It is planning to ship over 6,000 additional oxygen concentrators to India in the next two weeks.
“Shipping large quantities of medical equipment to another country from the U.S. has a lot of logistical challenges. We are optimizing our shipments so that they reach India fast,” Sewa’s president Arun Kankani said in a statement.
“Sewa has established a control room in Atlanta, and it is managed by 10 Sewa volunteers. They are constantly researching the availability of medical equipment, vendor credentials, price, and other details to purchase them or find donors who can donate them to us,” Kankani added.
“We have received phenomenal support from across the U.S. for our ‘Help India Defeat COVID-19 campaign,’” Kankani continued. “Many corporates, hospitals, and community organizations are calling us to offer help. Sewa volunteers are working hard to connect the dots. We thank all those who have given help and continue to offer support to Sewa in this time of crisis.”
Another total of $10 million given to CARE will be used to supplement government efforts by setting up temporary COVID-19 infections care centers; providing oxygen, PPE kits, and other critically needed emergency supplies for frontline health workers; and addressing vaccines hesitancy.
Meanwhile, Aid India will make use of $2.5 million to help the under-resourced community identify COVID symptoms, prevent spread, access care and treatment, etc., it said.
ANI adds: The IKEA Foundation said May 12 that it has donated EUR 3 million in unrestricted funding to Medecins Sans Frontieres, a medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people, to provide primary healthcare and distribute medical relief items in the wake of the surge in COVID-19 cases.
An IKEA release said that the pandemic is causing unprecedented healthcare challenges in India and the donation will help MSF to scale up and continue to provide primary healthcare and distribute medical relief items to the people in the country.
"MSF has mobilized staff – including doctors, nurses, anesthesia technicians, and psychologists—and is in the process of recruiting and sending additional teams with COVID-19 experience to provide care for people who are affected, including those who require hospitalization and oxygen therapy.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a non-profit organization that organizes values-based education programs and community outreach projects nationwide, has deployed a volunteer response team to support the City of Philadelphia, FEMA, and other government partners at the Center City Vaccination Center (CCVC). This site is equipped to deliver up to 6,000 doses of the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine each day. It is the second federally supported community vaccination center in the nation to benefit from HSS’s assistance. Sewa International and 25 organizations of the Indian American community in the greater Philadelphia region are working closely with HSS to offer support.
HSS has named their campaign “Sewa With FEMA.” Sewa is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service.” HSS’s on-site coordinator, Sachin Dabade, said, “It involves acting selflessly and helping others without any reward or personal gain, based on their Hindu faith and motto, ‘The whole world is one family.’” Sewa and HSS have deployed 351 volunteers logging 2400 hours of support at the CCVC and 21 volunteers providing 98.5 hours at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center.
Now more than ever, Sewa and HSS volunteers are impassioned to invest in U.S. vaccination efforts as India’s COVID-19 case rates rapidly increase and its supply of oxygen tanks and medical resources decrease.
“They are incredibly eager to be here, and they have the drive to volunteer for a community that some of them are not even a part of,” said Justice Colbert, emergency management specialist at FEMA Region III. “They show up ready to help Philadelphians with a positive attitude,” and learn everything they can about emergency management so they can transfer their skills to future disaster deployments, she said.
More than one dozen Indian American volunteers arrive daily to provide non-clinical support at the vaccination center, such as wheelchair escort assistance and traffic control.
“We are honored to serve in this national cause of ending the COVID-19 pandemic and sincerely thank the FEMA Region III team for giving us an opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in Philadelphia,” said Mukund Kute, president of PA East Division of HSS. “We have distributed $55,000 worth of PPE Kits, food and masks since early April 2020. We will continue to support FEMA until we beat COVID-19.”
“Whether during response, recovery, mitigation, or preparedness, voluntary organizations bring many unique resources and assets to help communities and individuals,” said Janice Barlow, Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 3. “Our country’s volunteer organizations have provided organized services to those affected by disasters and public health emergencies, beginning with our nation’s first volunteer fire department established by Benjamin Franklin, right here in Philadelphia, in 1736. The contributions of volunteer organizations, like Sewa, are invaluable assets at the two federally supported Community Vaccination Centers in Philadelphia and across FEMA Region 3.”
Interagency cooperation which includes community-based organizations like local voluntary organizations, provides valuable insight to inform operational decisions before, during and after FEMA’s response missions. Engaging with voluntary organizations is critical to representing local perspectives and needs specific to communities that otherwise may not be obvious to external entities such as FEMA. Vaccine guests coming to the community vaccination centers appreciate seeing friendly faces with that local perspective.
To learn more about HSS/Sewa’s vaccination mission “Sewa With FEMA” visit:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/IndoAmericans4CovidRelief
HSS and SEWA International are one of several volunteer organizations supporting the COVID-19 response in Philadelphia. They are working closely with Team Rubicon, another trusted partner organization of FEMA.
To volunteer with HSS’s FEMA Drive “Sewa With FEMA”: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C48AEA72FA4F8C07-sewa
Caption: Sewa volunteers conduct community outreach by canvassing in neighborhoods across Philadelphia to spread awareness about the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center and Center City Vaccination Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA)
Caption: Sewa volunteers work alongside other volunteer organizations, like Team Rubicon, as well as the Pennsylvania National Guard to support the Center City Vaccination Center (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA).
Caption: A Sewa volunteer manages traffic control at the state-run, federally-supported Center City Community Vaccination Center in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA
Caption: A Sewa volunteer assists a community member at the Center City Vaccination Center. (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA)
Describing the surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths in India as "nothing short of heartbreaking , Vice President Kamala Harris said on Friday that the country's welfare is critically important to the United States.
Pledging that the Biden administration is determined to help India in its hour of need, Harris said that the entire government machinery has been galvanised to help the country in this hour of crisis.
India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 4,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, when our hospital beds were stretched, India sent assistance. And today, we are determined to help India in its hour of need," Harris said in her remarks at the State Department's Diaspora outreach event on US COVID Relief for India.
"We do this as friends of India, as members of the Asian Quad, and as part of the global community. I believe that if we continue to work together across nations and sectors we will all get through this," Harris said.
The Biden-Harris Administration has announced USD 100 million assistance to India to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In about a week's time, as many as six plane loads of COVID-19 assistance have landed in India. The entire administration has been galvanized to help India in this hour of crisis. The White House and the State Department is coordinating with the corporate sector, which has mounted an unprecedented private sector relief for any country ever.
Indian-Americans have been raising millions of dollars and have been sending life-saving health care equipment and medicines to India. Sewa International USA has raised more than USD 10 million, American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin or AAPI have raised USD 3.5 million and Indiaspora more than USD2 million, to name some of them.
In her remarks, Harris recognised the contribution of Indian-Americans on the issue.
"For years, diaspora groups like Indiaspora and the American India Foundation have built bridges between the United States and India. And this past year, you have provided vital contributions to COVID-19 relief efforts. Thank you for your work," said the vice president.
"As many of you know, generations of my family come from India. My mother was born and raised in India. And I have family members who live in India today. The welfare of India is critically important to the United States," Harris said.
"The surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths in India is nothing short of heartbreaking. To those of you who have lost loved ones, I send my deepest condolences. As soon as the dire nature of the situation became apparent, our Administration took action," she said, referring to the steps that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to help India in this hour of crisis.
On April 26, President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to offer America's support. By April 30, US military members and civilians were delivering relief on the ground, she said, referring to the whole-of-government approach that the administration has taken to help India.
As India continues to cope with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin has stepped up to help the country get through the surge.
Of late, India has reported nearly 350,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the past week-plus. The spike in infections has led to deadly shortages of oxygen, ambulances and hospital beds.
Countries around the world have pledged to send aid in the form of medical supplies and vaccine doses, but urgent requests for ventilators and intensive care unit beds continue to flood social media, according to the AAPI release.
As India’s health-care system buckles under pressure, AAPI is leading several efforts to support, coordinate and reach the much-needed help in this hour of need, it said.
AAPI president Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda said in a statement that the generosity of its members and others had allowed the association to be able to make progress in its efforts to deal with an unfolding and uncontrollable COVID-19 crisis in the South Asian country.
The Indian American physician announced that “AAPI is facilitating interaction between U.S. and Indian doctors to advise them about the evidence-based protocols to treat COVID-19 patients.”
It has evaluated three HIPAA compliant telehealth platforms to treat patients in India. AAPI is also working on relaxing the restrictions on U.S. physicians to treat patients in India.
In its efforts to serve as a physician on humanitarian grounds to help patients in India, AAPI has identified and facilitates the following platforms/links for those who want to use the Telehealth established platforms: http://Mdtok.com/dr/Covid and www.eGobalDoctors.com.
AAPI encourages using this route because they give global malpractice coverage: They offer free service for 1-to-3 months for its physicians to help Indian patients, as these platforms serve and help every Indian American physician to become a registered physician in India, by renewing his/her India licenses ASAP and can start services, the release said.
Regarding medical supplies, “As we pledged, we are able to very quickly secure the much needed and in demand O2 concentrators through our reliable and committed partner (SEWA International),” Jonnalagadda said. “We have shipped by air freight, the first batch of 1,000 of the O2 Concentrators on April 29.”
AAPI, in collaboration with its partners on the ground in India, has identified destinations based on urgency and acute need for the medical equipment to be able to serve and save as many lives as quickly, and to prevent avoidable catastrophe for the simple lack of oxygen, the AAPI president said, adding: “We have no doubt, this is just the beginning of a long road ahead. We are assessing the situation on the ground constantly and coordinating with various local task forces and teams.”
AAPI is in constant touch with the Indian Embassy and Indian Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan to see how best it can help India during this horrific pandemic. AAPI has also written to a letter Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to lock down the country to contain the spread of the virus, and to ramp up the vaccinations, it added.
More information on AAPI and its efforts to coordinate services for the people of India can be found at www.aapiusa.org.
Members of SEWA UK assist with oxygen concentrators for India.
Sewa International TT (SewaTT) has raised close to $500,000 to assist victims of COVID-19 in India and people affected by the volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Head of the organisation Reevan Teelucksingh said around $112,000 has been raised for India.
He said the monies went directly to SEWA USA for the purchase of oxygen concentrators.
Teelucksingh said SEWA International USA had built a strong relationship with the manufacturers of the oxygen concentrator.
He said the concentrators are purchased at a cost of US$500.
He said SEWA Bharat is also on the ground in India providing food support for people under lockdown.
SEWA Bharat is a federation of women-led institutions providing economic and social support to women in the informal sector.
Teelucksingh said the St Vincent drive has been phenomenal with over $300,000 being collected for the volcano victims.
Teelucksingh said both the India and St Vincent drives would be closed on May 10 in order for Sewa to start assisting victims of the fallout of COVID-19 in T&T.
Teelucksingh said people can donate by visiting SEWA.ORG or calling 333 Sewa.
People aged 18 and over waiting to be inoculated against Covid-19 at a vaccination centre at Radha Soami Satsang grounds being run by BLK-Max hospital on May 4, 2021 in New Delhi, India.
Hindustan Times | Hindustan Times | Getty Images
Global logistics companies UPS and FedEx are providing critical aid to India as Covid cases there topped 20 million, including more than 222,000 deaths.
UPS announced Wednesday that its philanthropic arm, The UPS Foundation, is pledging $1 million in aid to India in a mix of emergency funding, transportation of goods, technical expertise and the support of its 1,000 employees in India.
“There is nothing in the world right now that matters more than getting aid to India during this tragic time,” UPS Foundation President Nikki Clifton told CNBC. “Providing global humanitarian relief in times of crisis is a core part of our work.”
India has about 3.45 million active Covid cases, according to health ministry data. On Wednesday, India reported 382,315 new daily infections, the 14th straight day of new cases over 300,000.
UPS is coordinating with UNICEF, CARE International, The Salvation Army, Sewa International and other groups to ship and deliver oxygen concentrators, ventilators, nebulizers, respiratory supplies, personal protective equipment, Covid test kits and antiviral medications.
The Atlanta-based carrier delivered more than 5,000 oxygen concentrators Monday as well as respirator equipment for hospitals rural areas north of the nation’s largest city, Mumbai. An oxygen concentrator, as described by the World Health Organization, is a device that draws in room air and passes it through a series of filters and much like an oxygen tank delivers it to the patient.
Last week, FedEx announced a $4 million commitment, including a cash donation, equipment transport and support from its 7,000 employees in India. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company has already sent an initial shipment of 1,000 of oxygen concentrators. It’s in the process of transporting more than 1,800 pounds of medicine and PPE through a partnership with Direct Relief.
Raj Subramaniam, president and COO at FedEx, appeared on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” on Tuesday to discuss the company’s effort. “We have been working with the Indian ambassador and we are able to move things in a streamlined fashion into India. ... Our job is to move those oxygen containers and oxygen concentrators to India, and the supplies all over the world.”
“FedEx is uniquely positioned to help because of our networks,” he continued. “We fly on a day on a regularly scheduled basis four [Boeing 777 jets] and an MD 11 into India into three different markets. It’s coming from all over. There’s an outpouring of support from across the world, and we have a unique capability of actually bringing that to India, so that’s what we’re doing.”
Subramaniam, who grew up in India, said this mission is deeply personal. “I have family members and friends who have really been impacted by the crisis. So we are doing everything in our power to make sure we leave no stone unturned ... to deliver critical components to India.”
Another U.S. company, Amazon, said it’s providing over $5 million in aid to India by purchasing critical medical equipment and transporting with its logistics arm. The effort, which began last week, includes encouraging employees in India who have recovered from Covid to donate blood plasma.
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