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COVID-19 in India: "Health facilities are completely overwhelmed"

26 Apr 21 | 31 May 21
This article is more than one year old

COVID-19 in India: "Health facilities are completely overwhelmed"

Dr Sharanya Ramakrishna takes a swab sample at a Designated COVID-19 Health Centre in Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Shatabdi Hospital, Mumbai, August 2020. Caption
Dr Sharanya Ramakrishna takes a swab sample at a Designated COVID-19 Health Centre in Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Shatabdi Hospital, Mumbai, August 2020.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has restarted its emergency response amid a surging second wave of COVID-19 in Mumbai, India. The city is very densely populated and the poor and dilapidated hygiene conditions are a trigger for the virus to infect and spread rapidly.

Daily new infections across the country have reached a peak of over 200,000 in a single day, with a staggering 115,736 new cases reported in Maharashtra state alone on 16 April.

“The situation is very worrying,” says Dilip Bhaskaran, COVID-19 coordinator for MSF in Mumbai. “This is the largest upsurge since the pandemic started. MSF stands ready to further pace up its services in support of the health facilities that are currently completely overwhelmed.”

Meanwhile, our teams are actively identifying cases, conducting screening and appropriate triage for infection prevention and control for tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) patients at Shatabdi hospital and the MSF independent clinic.

Patients coinfected with COVID-19 and TB are being referred for inpatient management and treatment to Sewri hospital.

Non-TB identified patients with COVID-19 that need admission are referred to Dedicated COVID-19 Health Centre (DCHC) facilities.

MSF strengthens emergency response

MSF is further providing prevention kits, counselling and phone follow-up to high-risk patients, including TB/DR-TB, diabetes patients and the elderly.

To ensure continuity of care, MSF continues to support four health centres in M-East Ward (MEW) of Mumbai.

At MSF's out-patient department in Batil refugee camp Gandhi Pant, a nurse, escorts a patient with a possible appendicitis to a waiting ambulance. 

Batil is one of three camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State sheltering at least 113,000 refugees who have crossed the border from Blue Nile state to escape fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the SPLM-North armed group. Refugees arrive at the camp with harrowing stories of being bombed out of their homes, or having their villages burned. The camps into which they have poured are on a vast floodplain, leaving many tents flooded and refugees vulnerable to disease. Mortality rates in Batil camp are at emergency levels, malnutrition rates are more than five times above emergency thresholds, and diarrhea and malarial cases are rising.

Help us prepare for the next emergency

As of Saturday 17 April, MSF started shielding, digital health promotion, water and sanitation activities in the MEW. Activities will be further extended to five more health facilities.

MSF is preparing to support two units within a jumbo hospital in Mumbai. The divisions will include two sets of tents with around 1,000 intensive care beds in each.

Five additional medical doctors and five nurses have been recruited to strengthen the response.

MSF will continue to provide medical and technical support with oxygen supplies and therapy.

How can I help the COVID-19 crisis in India?

MSF has launched an emergency medical response in Mumbai, India, providing staff, expertise and life-saving supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

We’ve been able to move quickly because of the unique way we are funded – by people like you, making donations that aren’t limited to one specific event. This means we don’t need to start a fundraising campaign before we can help – we use flexible “unrestricted” funds to act fast and save lives, now.

Please make a donation today. If the crisis escalates in India or anywhere in the world, your unrestricted donation will mean that our emergency teams are ready for whatever comes next.