The battle against COVID-19 will be long and hard. With the number of positive cases and resulting deaths rising in India every day, economic slowdown, and limited access to other equally critical healthcare services, more and more people are in need of support and care.
While the lockdown and social distancing measures are necessary to flatten the COVID-19 curve, CHAI is continuing its efforts to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in India through our existing projects for children with disability, palliative care, TB patients, and so on. Simultaneously, we are also forging ahead with our COVID-19 response. Each programme manager at CHAI is involved in both the ongoing projects as well as COVID-19-related activities. As the entire staff is learning to work from home, CHAI has instituted online weekly reviews of all the existing programmes to ensure that whatever possible, is done even in the midst of the lockdown. Meanwhile, CHAI is monitoring COVID-19-related activities on a daily basis to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape.
CHAI is supporting its member institutions through training healthcare personnel in its network. CHAI, in partnership with Tech Care for All, has created four training courses, of which the first one for doctors is available on the Medical Learning Hub platform. To date, more than 500 sister doctors have registered for the course. CHAI has also set up a help desk (firstname.lastname@example.org) for its member institutions. CHAI is assisting its members by putting them in touch with relevant experts to address their queries. Several CHAI member institutions are supporting the community by providing food, sanitary napkins, and hygiene supplies to those who need them the most. Additionally, a few CHAI partners, including parents of disabled children, are stitching cloth masks and distributing them within the community.
Like any other sector, CHAI hospitals are also facing a substantial decline in income – even up to 70% – due to suspension of outpatient services and elective procedures. Simultaneously, the hospitals need to expend resources towards COVID-19 preparedness. This is creating significant financial distress among hospitals, and many are struggling to pay salaries. This is going to be a huge challenge and we are trying our best to figure out ways of addressing this difficult situation. Meanwhile, we have approached some of our existing funding partners and we are getting positive responses from them. With their assistance, CHAI should be able to partially support some of our hospitals with personal protective equipment (PPE) and relief kits (food and hygiene supplies) to families of daily wagers, and other vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society.
We are grateful to all our partners for the generous support during this distressing time. We are praying and hoping that we will be able to support more of our hospitals and healthcare personnel to continue this fight against COVID-19.