India’s three-week lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus that started Wednesday put 1.3 billion people inside their homes and suspended virtually all economic activity.
India has recorded 724 coronavirus infections and 17 deaths – numbers that health experts warn are projected to spike in the same manner that some European countries and the United States have experienced.
Worries are high about the devastating impact the shutdown will have on millions of poor people who work in the country’s vast informal sector with no access to benefits and few savings to fall back on.
Millions of migrant workers have streamed back from cities to their villages in recent days as commercial establishments and factories have shut down.
But many have been stranded in cities as train and bus services have ground to a complete halt.
For many of them, like Asif Iqbal, who works as a carpenter in the capital, the bigger worry is not the coronavirus, but how to obtain food over the next few weeks.
He sent his family back to his village last week along with most of his savings, but he stayed behind with his brother hoping to find work.
Ali says he and his brother have only about $18 between them – barely enough to buy food for about a week. He will not be able to access food rations announced by the government because his identity cards are registered in his village in west Bengal state.
Rickshaw drivers, itinerant produce peddlers, maids, day laborers and other informal workers form the backbone of the Indian economy, comprising around 85% of all employment, according to official data. Many of them buy food with the money they make each day, and have no savings to fall back on.
Untold numbers of them are now out of work and many families have been left struggling to eat.
"Our first concern is food, not the virus," said Ajith Kumar, 59, a bicycle rickshaw rider in New Delhi. He said he has a family of six who rely on his daily earnings of just 700 rupees ($10),
"I don't know how I will manage," he said.
We are gearing up and teaming up with local charities and aid groups to map out locations where the city's poor tend to congregate, and by distributing hot and also ration supplies to them wherever they are so that at this crucial and hard time they can survive and fight the battle of “CORONAVIRUS” strongly hand in hand with the entire nation.
We are planning to cover over 200 hospitals and 1,400 residential-based healthcare providers at any given time. Overwhelmed doctors have told us they can go through as many as 20,000 masks a day. Our goal is to acquire, distribute, and deliver a millions of masks to hospitals in India and distribute food and water to the poor with the help of your donations!
If we surpass our goal, we will keep acquiring additional PPE for frontline healthcare workers until every last penny is spent.
Once the masks are delivered, we will mark our mask drop-offs on an interactive digital map (coming soon), so you can stay updated on where the donations are going.
We will be posting stories & photos of our donations, on our Twitter (@DS GLOBAL) and Instagram (@DS GLOBAL). Even you can mail us on [email protected], and reach us on +1-848-456-7384, +91-7980023053
STORIES FROM THE FIELD:
“The shortage of face masks is so severe that the CDC is now advising nurses and other health care providers that they can "use homemade masks" like a "bandana" or "scarf" "as a last resort" -- even though it admits the effectiveness "is unknown."
"There is such a shortage of masks -- we were finally given one per person. That one mask is supposed to last us for at least a week.
We received a text message last week from one of my friend, a doctor at a local hospital saying “I’m pretty sure I have COVID-19. Unfortunately, my hospital won’t test me until I have registered a 104 degree fever, because there aren’t enough tests. My co-resident had to transport a Coronavirus patient without a mask, because our hospital ran out. I’m pretty sure he’s infected now too.”
We understand the seriousness of the hege danger coming in and so we want to stay firm and strong in this pandemic and help those in need as we know very well the on ground situation in India.
WHO WE ARE
Sanjay Ghosh is working for many non-profit organizations and a tech entrepreneur, born and raised in West Benal, India. He is a graduate of Vinayaka Missions University.
As a global citizen, I want to help fight the Coronavirus, a global pandemic, by helping out local hospitals and healthcare workers by providing them with the PPE they need.
DS GLOBAL - INSIGHTS
What does success look like?
If we can save one healthcare worker from being infected, we already consider ourselves successful. If a healthcare worker is infected, that means they will call-in sick, meaning there is less coverage and reduces a hospital's capacity to properly take care of its patients, which has already begun happening.
Our current primary goal is to get as many FDA-approved medical masks into the hands of frontline healthcare workers as fast as possible. We're hearing that most hospitals in India are either extremely low on supply or have already run out. Speed here is crucial. We also have been hearing that some hospitals around the country as well as other frontline essential workers are experiencing shortages as well.
How will the funds be used?
100% of the funds will go directly to facilitating the purchase and delivery of masks and other urgent Personal Protective Equipment for frontline healthcare workers & hospitals. Our entire leadership team is donating their time and have foregone compensation for their work. No one on the leadership team for a Million Masks is benefiting financially in any way from this campaign.
We are committed to ensuring that our suppliers are giving us the most competitive rates available for FDA-licensed, genuine medical-grade masks, so that we can make sure that each dollar we raised is maximized for efficacy. Should we raise enough money and have enough access so supply, we hope to expand our donations to other hospitals in need.
Why aren’t the hospitals & government ordering these masks directly?
Hospitals as well as government agencies are trying their best to procure masks. However, due to supply chain limitations and global competition, they are currently experiencing extreme shortages. We are fortunate to have close relationships with many of the factories producing masks.
I’ve seen other charity efforts related to COVID-19. How is this one different?
Your donation will go directly to support the acquisition of masks & other urgent PPE for Indian healthcare staff, poor people at the frontlines of COVID-19. Because of the global shortage of masks & PPE, your funds will be able to get equipment that is in great need and out of reach for hospitals currently. Unlike other charities, ours is related directly to the supply of masks & PPE, because we believe that protecting our frontline healthcare workers is the most important thing to do right now. We will be sharing photos & videos of healthcare workers receiving the donated equipment, so you can see your impact on the local community.
How are you procuring the masks?
Through our volunteer network, we are fortunate to have close relationships with some of the largest N95, 3-Ply & surgical mask suppliers in the world. The manufacturers are certified with the FDA and/or the European Union to supply medical equipment. We have verified and have copies of their certification.
How much are you paying for the masks?
We are getting manufacturer pricing on the mask. As pricing depends on order quantity, shipping rate (in this case, the faster the better to protect our healthcare workers), and competing demand, the number may change. However, we have spent our time comparing prices across multiple manufacturers to get the best possible price per unit while making sure that each manufacturer has the right certification and approval by the FDA or the EMA.
How are you distributing the masks?
Through our volunteer network, we will be personally hand-delivering the masks to frontline medical workers at their hospitals, so that they get into the right hands.
Aside from donations, how can we help?
If you want to volunteer to help us with distribution you can e-mail us with a subject headline to [email protected]