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When state failed to deliver, this NGO helped people breathe during pandemic

By Moin Qazi*

India’s coronavirus crisis is the worst since the pandemic began, and it will probably worsen before it gets better. Hospitals and clinics around the country are facing a shortage of essential supplies, including beds, oxygen, drugs, vaccines, and Covid-19 tests.
Hope shone in this dark tragedy through the work of NGOs—a catchall term for the roughly 3 million nonprofits working across the country —who have risen to the occasion and ramped up aid efforts.They are leveraging their extensive reach with community leaders and large volunteer-base in the community. They all know that a pandemic response rooted in cooperation makes everyone safer.
In the face of infrastructural collapse, civil society groups are stepping forward to meet the needs of the moment. It would not have been possible for the government alone to holistically address the pandemic — develop, implement and ensure that assistance reached the last-mile. We see that every day, in the heroic work of health care workers, first responders, and everyday people reaching out to lend each other a hand.
Mhaswad town is a mere blip on India’s vast geographic radar but the women here are in the vanguard of a social revolution that is transforming the lives of low-income women in western Maharashtra .The harbinger of this transformative movement is the Mann Deshi Foundation set up in 1996 by a trained economist Chetna Sinha who combines her intellect with a rare brand of passion and determination for rural uplift.
The rich social capital built over the years by Mann Deshi is now being harnessed to provide relief to those affected by the current crisis. More than 10,000 frontline workers (including ASHA workers) are creating awareness about the preventive aspects imposed social-distancing restrictions, delivering clear public health messaging, implementing testing and contact tracing and distributing medical protective gear including facemasks and gloves and other medical and relief material. 6,00,000+ masks have been distributed, providing income support to local entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing them and a protective gear to general population. For the least fortunate segments of the population, more economic pain is a virtual certainty.
An already stretched health system has proved incapable of tracing, isolation, and quarantine. Mann Deshi is operating two hospitals in Satara district under PPP model, in collaboration with district government and corporate partners. It has launched this fully oxygenated 350 bed facility designed specifically to house and care for COVID patients. 
It is fully equipped with ventilators, jumbo oxygen cylinders, CR system, etc. It has also set up a 20-bed quarantine centre for covid positive patients in Mhaswad. The hospital set up is supported with 2 cardiac and advanced life support ambulances. Mann Deshi is leveraging local medical infrastructure for expertise, equipment, training and triage and treatment services.
The organization has partnered with a private hospital in Mann taluka to provide free CT scan facilities for women and girls. It is also constructing and operationalising its own medical diagnostics and consultancy centre in Mhaswad. It has a dedicated Mann Deshi Oxygen Bank which provides oxygen concentrators to Covid positive patients across Satara district for seven days free of cost. Mann Deshi’s cadre of trained technicians guides family caregivers in handling the equipment. Mann Deshi is trying to get more on-site oxygen production facilities to be built at hospitals.
Some other interventions of Mann Deshi include:
  • 40 portable oxygen machines provided to 30+ covid positive patients
  • 20,000+ nutritious food and dry rations provided to families and migrants
  • 2000+ covid tests facilities through district government
  • 20,000+ community members provided medical support through biweekly health camps
  • 10,000+ women provided with multivitamin supplements

Mann Deshi Foundation's Covid Relief Programme

We are currently seeking donations to support 1000+ marginalised and vulnerable rural families in the Satara district of Maharashtra receive medical treatment for COVID19. Donations will go towards the family’s costs for tests, scans, medicines, food, equipment and any other hospitalisation or medical expenses. We also require funds for purchase of essential medical equipment such as ventilators and the development of our HRCT Scanning & Diagnostics Centre in Mhaswad. Contact :Prabhat Sinha: +91 98229 45698 / prabhat@manndeshi.org.inDevika Mahadevan: +91 98210 32074 / devika@manndeshi.org.in
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*Development expert

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