World Vision is at the epicentre of India’s COVID-19 crisis and stands ready to ramp up its response to the emergency as it mourns the loss of staff to the virus in recent days.
The organisation is working in some of India’s worst-hit areas and is supporting health facilities and vulnerable families in the wake of a COVID-19 tsunami in India, where Australians support more than 23,000 children and their communities through sponsorship programs.
Due to the urgent lifesaving needs, World Vision India is now refocussing its COVID-19response and is set to allocate approximately$AU2.5 million for beds and oxygen concentrators in 93 hospitals. But only a huge global effort can address the disaster with a Rapid Needs assessment in World Vision’s 104 area programs alone, establishing a critical need for COVID-19 patient beds and oxygen in most of the104 district hospitals.
The organisation is facing its own challenges, with staff trying to carry out their work from home during a lockdown, but is gearing up to respond to lifesaving needs amid the second wave.
World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth said cases had grown eight-fold in the last month, representing a staggering 350,000 people infected by COVID-19 every single day, for the past six days.
“This grim situation is escalating rapidly and it will take a mammoth global effort to help the people of India get COVID-19 back under control,” he said .“The pandemic will continue to have social and economic aftershocks, which will be felt for a long time to come. WV India is networking with the Government to ensure vulnerable communities can access the healthcare they so desperately need. We’re working hard in communities to ensure that people have safe, fast and equitable access to the vaccine, working closely with district administrations to support the Government’s efforts to reach more people.”
Mr Wordsworth welcomed an initial medical support package announced by Australia's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, saying India had been a generous global partner in the fight against COVID-19, gifting vaccines to Fiji and Nauru.
“It is appropriate that we offer this initial package and continue support India through this crisis,” he said. He said the devastating second wave showed that vulnerable communities are most at risk during the COVID pandemic – the very communities World Vision works in. The organisation was profoundly concerned about the well-being of children.
“Two WV India staff have died in the last 10 days-no one is untouched by this pandemic,” he said.
“About 100 staff members have also been infected, and some have lost family members to COVID-19. Three more staff are in a critical condition in hospitals. This is a huge issue for staff wellbeing and their ability to work in this much-needed response.”
He said the greatest needs in the country were hospital beds and oxygen, and World Vision would respond for a long time to come.
“There’s the response and then the recovery, and we will be heavily involved in the recovery phase for these communities,” he said. “We are still carrying out programs where work can be done virtually.”
World Vision India’s National Director Madhav Bellamkonda said the recent spike in cases confirmed that India was enduring its toughest phase so far in the COVID-19 crisis.
“It is imperative that people follow the government’s advice and the prevention messages aligning with vaccine advocacy that World Vision India has also been sharing in order to reduce transmission,” he said. “But the reality of crowded cities and mobility of people without Government-mandated precautions and the emergence of the new strains has made the control efforts harder and there is a risk of losing some important gains India has made in the fight against COVID-19."
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