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Medical staff around a Covid-19 patient in India

Covid-19 in India 2021: South Asian Concern

Ruth Leigh
3 min

Last Thursday, India recorded the world’s highest number of Covid-19 cases in a single day. In less than 24 hours, 314,000 cases were identified. It can be difficult to make sense of such huge numbers, so let’s put that into perspective. The population of Hull is just over 314,000.

From 23rd April until 6th May, the country recorded 5,146,445 cases and 45,511 deaths. That’s in a 7-day period. Each of these stats represents a life lost, a loved one lying in bed desperate for oxygen, a family torn apart. India’s health system can’t cope and is in a parlous position as the numbers rise. The surge in cases is being attributed to a new, extreme variant as well as under-staffed hospitals and an acute shortage of oxygen.

Former Chair of Stewardship Services and Chairman of Christian charity South Asian Concern, Ram Gidoomal, has been working closely with those who most need help.

“SAC launched an appeal last week. The response was overwhelming with over £120,000 raised so far to buy oxygen generating machines and ventilators for our partner hospitals. Many are located in rural areas and it’s the cities which are getting all the funds and help. We’re hearing heart-breaking stories of ambulances being turned away by hospitals and people dying for lack of oxygen. There’s a serious shortage of equipment and oxygen. Patients are presenting with only minutes to live. All staff can do is to administer oxygen manually, while wearing PPE and maintaining social distancing. It’s shocking.”

SAC has sent an oxygen generating machine to one rural hospital and are praying that it arrives before or on next Monday. Ram is clear on what Christians can do to help.

“First of all, pray. We need a spirit of wisdom, generosity and discernment for governments. Terrible things are happening, people are suffering, and prayer is needed for resources and funds to be raised up.”

“Secondly, if you can, please give. Every gift, whatever size, helps. Oxygen generating machines cost around £20,000 each. Any financial gift will help us buy machines and ventilators which will go directly to the rural hospitals which so desperately need them and will save lives. You can give with Stewardship quoting our charity number 20026246.”

“Thirdly, you can lobby the UK government to send more aid, with particular reference to rural India. The situation with these isolated hospitals is being hopelessly under-reported. Many of them are snakebite hospitals which have been told they have to convert 10 of their beds for Covid patients. The good thing is that they are used to dealing with patients with oxygen challenges as the lungs are the first organs to be affected when someone’s bitten by a snake. The bad thing is that they are under-staffed and under-resourced and simply don’t have enough of the right lifesaving equipment.”

Ram received a wonderfully encouraging message from the Senior Administrative Officer at one of SAC’s partner hospitals. A couple had travelled for three hours to be treated and are now recovering. They said this:

“Your doctors and staff, right down to the cleaners are angels of God with a Christ-hearted attitude of service! We want to stay here until we totally recover.” Watching the Hospital Administrator helping a nurse to give her husband a bed bath, the wife observed, ‘Leaders should be servants first. I love the way this is expressed in this place.’”

Donations can be made quoting ‘KCH Oxygen Appeal’ and the Stewardship charity reference number 20026246.

You can give to South Asian Concern here.