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Global health expert Devi Sridhar urges support for vital life-saving action in India’s COVID-19 crisis

Global health expert Devi Sridhar has urged the public to get behind the extended DEC Coronavirus Appeal for India to provide vital life-saving medical supplies.

Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh has urged people to donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s extended Coronavirus appeal for India as a vital way to support relief efforts there.

Professor Sridhar who has been a key adviser to the Scottish Governments throughout the pandemic here, has described the conditions in Indian hospitals as a ‘medical hell on earth’ and says there is still a desperate need for basic medical supplies, oxygen and logistical support to help the overwhelmed medical teams across the country

She pointed out that many doctors had already died in India whilst trying to save patients and urged the authorities to make vaccinations a priority for medical staff.

She added that many of the most vulnerable populations across India were facing a ‘double hit’ – not only the deadly threat of the virus but its economic impacts too with many families now going hungry.

That’s one of the reasons she is supporting the DEC appeal.  As donations add up, the DEC’s member charities will not only be able to support medical teams but also help the poorest and most vulnerable households by providing food to prevent malnutrition and other household essentials

As the DEC has done in many other locations around the world during the pandemic, money from the UK public will also pay for basics like soap and handwashing stations, hygiene kits and trained Indian health volunteers to screen the population and support health messaging to help stop the virus spreading further.

Prof Sridhar added that with the virus now rapidly spreading in neighbouring countries, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, it showed the danger of complacency about the virus.

“My fear now is this could bode ill for Africa, what it will look like in a few weeks?  We can’t underestimate this virus, whenever we think it has been defeated, it somehow comes back in a more vicious way”

DEC charities are now supporting India’s health system by providing PPE, disinfection, sanitation and other medical supplies awe well as setting up temporary Covid hospitals and Covid care centres kits, including isolation facilities.  They are also providing key information and logistics support to help people find hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and Covid vaccines.

They are also scaling up preventive measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 amongst the most vulnerable communities by providing soap, handwashing stations sanitiser and masks, distributing hygiene kits and training health volunteers to screen people for symptoms, promote quarantine and other key public health messages.

DEC charities will also provide additional support to the poorest and most vulnerable households by ensuring families get enough food to prevent malnutrition, particularly amongst children, by distributing food and care packs to people in isolation; providing cash, vouchers and dry rations; providing livelihoods training and cash for work.  They will also support older people and support children, families and teachers to continue education if schools are closed

Donations will help provide the following: £30 could provide six families with enough soap for a month; £50 could provide essential hygiene kits to two families; £100 could provide PPE for one frontline health worker for four months.

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