On 31st December 2019, the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO), from Wuhan city, China. Due to unrestricted international travelling and aggravated by human to human transmission in close contact, the virus unimaginably got its claws into the major continents, spreading like wildfire. Eventually, on March 11th, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by WHO.
India went under a nationwide lockdown from March 25th 2020, which brought normal life to a complete halt. As there was no prior official planning, the sudden announcement led to the large-scale movement of the urban poor from cities to their rural homes, defying all “social distancing” norms. After 75 days of complete isolation, the nation started reopening in a phased manner. By this time, India had recorded more than 2, 50,000 COVID-19 cases and 7200 deaths. Among those surviving, many had already lost their sources of income; businesses had nose-dived. The worst affected were the daily wage labourers, people living below the poverty line and women working in the informal sector
Since the middle of March 2021, the second wave emerged; the major affected states being Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The farmers’ movement and election in several states worsened the scenario.
India is already home to one of the highest percentages of the world’s most fatal communicable diseases – HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis. These tend to affect the country’s poorest and most marginalized populations to a large extent. The upsurge of COVID-19 posed life threats to the above sections and people with other comorbidities.
Alliance India’s relentless efforts to keep the boat of HIV survivors sailing, even in the midst of the COVID-19 storm, has been enormous. Due to lack of proper work opportunities during the lockdown, the key population was pushed to the verge of starvation. Many couldn’t reach the ART centres for medicines as public transport was not available and there was also the fear of contracting the new virus.
Alliance India through its various programmes pushed their limits to supply ration and health units like medicines, masks, soaps, sanitisers to far off community hotspots, through their outreach workers (ORWs). They were also entrusted to educate the community on the precautionary measures to be observed to mitigate the possibility of getting infected by coronavirus.
We are extremely grateful to our partners, Frontline AIDS, GiveIndia and the Global Fund, which helped us in carrying out the above relief work. The Frontline AIDS Support assisted in framing vaccination referrals and linkages, and in the distribution of hygiene kits. GiveIndia grant has been particularly beneficial in distributing dry ration among community members registered under various projects of Alliance India, in the most affected states of the country.
As the second wave of COVID-19 hit with disastrous outcomes, we are tremendously fortunate to have had support from Give2 Asia, for the distribution of medical/hygiene kits, providing crisis care support and arranging for the vaccination of the community members.
Our generous individual partners have equally motivated and supported us in all our endeavours. Some have even forgone their personal requirements to save the HIV survivors.
All our partners have proved that in an emergency situation like this, it is important to remain united and put in our collective efforts to tide over crises.
The COVID-19 pandemic has essentially taught us two vital things – ‘nothing in this world should be taken for granted’ and ‘health is the ultimate wealth of our lives’.
~ Written by Sharmistha Ghosh, Consultant: Donor Relations, Alliance India
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