Although the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted every country, India has been a particularly hot topic in the news. With overcrowded hospital wards, unreliable data and a severe lack of oxygen cylinders and vaccines, the country is facing an unprecedented crisis. Here is all you need to know about the crisis and ways you can help.
India has been racking record numbers of positive coronavirus tests with over 400,000 people testing positive just this past Wednesday (May 6, 2021). According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, India has reported over 20 million COVID-19 cases. While shocking in and of itself, experts assert that this is likely a severe undercount. According to Chris Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, “India is probably only detecting 3 or 4% of its cases” right now.
This unreliable data on the number of cases is due to a lack of testing supplies as well as administrative mayhem. India invests far less in public health than most other countries; just above 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on health in comparison to the 18% invested by the U.S..
The government’s lack of spending has also led to shortages of oxygen and hospital beds, among other dire necessities. This past Saturday (May 1), an oxygen delivery was delayed by 90 minutes and resulted in the deaths of 12 COVID-19 patients at Delhi’s Batra Hospital. This example is just one of the hundreds that plague Indian hospitals. Families of patients have even resorted to scavenging oxygen tanks on their own to bring to hospitals.
Unfortunately, the Indian government’s lack of seriousness about this pandemic has only exacerbated every problem. The health minister declared that India had reached the end of the pandemic in early March and the government has shut its ears to cries on the contrary. To make matters worse, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led mass political rallies of thousands of people several times since and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
So how can you help? I found three organizations seeking donations to supply necessary support to India. Care India provides PPE (personal protective equipment) to frontline workers and aids the set up of temporary COVID care centers across the country. Khalsa Aid is an NGO (non-governmental organization), and it is aimed at providing oxygen cylinders to families in need. Project Hope delivers medical supplies to India’s hardest-hit communities and trains frontline workers.
While the pandemic may seem to be a fading concern to those of us getting vaccinated and anticipating a shift to more in-person activities, COVID-19 is still killing people around the world today. Instead of adding that guac to your Chipotle bowl or buying a Starbucks latte this week, consider donating that money to families in need of support because that adds up (or you could even do both).