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Oxfam responding to deadly wave of COVID-19 in India

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Oxfam delivered protective equipment and hygiene items to a hospital in Patna, Bihar state, on May 1, 2021. Neha Rani Verma / Oxfam

Our priority is on equipment for hospitals in addition to food, cash, clean water, and hygiene support for the most vulnerable people.

The latest wave of COVID-19 in India has created a severe humanitarian crisis. The country is struggling amidst a shortage of medical oxygen, hospital beds, ambulance vans, essential medicines, and basic equipment.

There are nearly four million active COVID-19 cases and more than 204,832 deaths across India. This second and more deadly wave of the coronavirus crisis in India is creating a rapidly evolving and grim situation. There are sporadic night curfews and lockdown-like measures across states that have once again triggered an exodus of migrant workers. As they jostle to catch the first train or bus home, most barely have the money to make this journey, but must try anyway to avoid a repeat of last year when they were left with no option but to walk thousands of miles in the scorching heat.

These migrant workers and many others who lost their jobs are still struggling to get back on their feet. Over the last year, Oxfam has been working to help people survive the initial crisis with food and clean water, sanitation, hygiene, cash, and protective equipment. We have assisted people in 16 states in India.

What Oxfam is doing in India now

Oxfam is working with local organizations and government officials to assess the needs of people and public hospitals. As we raise funds to meet the increased demands in India, we are building on our program work over the last year, including:

  • Distributing personal protective equipment in three districts of Maharashtra province, one of the hardest-hit areas of India.
  • Procuring medical equipment, protective equipment, and safety kits for frontline health workers in hospitals and other people in five highly affected states.
  • Reaching out to frontline health workers and stranded migrant workers (and workers who have reached home but have no source of income), homeless people, and others with no access to safety and hygiene items such as masks, soap, and sanitizers.

In a crisis such as this, women and girls, the aged, people with disabilities, and other marginalized people will suffer the worst. As people grapple to make ends meet, Oxfam is working hard to ensure that inclusive relief efforts will continue to be at the heart of our program in India.

Globally, Oxfam is mobilizing resources to help people in India while also advocating for a People’s Vaccine: a patent-free, mass produced, and fairly distributed vaccine available free of charge to everyone, rich and poor alike. In the United States, Oxfam is urging President Biden to temporarily waive intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization to allow factories in India and other countries to produce more vaccine.

Fatality numbers are rising rapidly in India. It’s a race against time to help as many people as possible. We urgently need your support.

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