- Many hospitals in the country are facing acute oxygen shortage
- We cannot waste a single minute: Harteerath Singh
- Hemkunt Foundation has been organising oxygen drives since April 20
New Delhi: “Who knew that oxygen, already available in the air and horribly taken for granted by humans, would become such a scarce and priced commodity? This pandemic has left us all gasping. My 63-year-old mother could not survive the wrath of COVID-19 as her oxygen level was fluctuating and we could not find enough support from the hospital,” said a 37-year-old resident of Delhi while talking to NDTV about the oxygen emergency facing various parts of the country amid a massive spike in cases. As the country continues to battle another wave of the pandemic, a Gurugram based NGO Hemkunt Foundation has come forward to help desperate families hit by the pandemic and rescue critical patients by distributing oxygen cylinders through its network of volunteers.
Also Read: The Good That People Do: Indians Reach Out With Helping Hand As COVID Spirals
Speaking to NDTV, Harteerath Singh, Community Development Director at Hemkunt Foundation, said,
We have been working as an NGO for the last 10 years globally, but this is the worst we have ever seen. There is an oxygen crisis. We see long queues outside our office even after we have run out of cylinders. We procure the cylinders from different states because it is difficult to get those in Delhi. We prioritise – we check the oxygen levels of the patient, verify it through documents or video calls. Right now we are prioritizing patients who have oxygen level below 85.
Today’s #OxygenCylinder drive was scheduled for 3:30pm but we had 1000s of ppl waiting outside our head office at 1pm itself.
The demand is huge- we are serving 1000s of ppl everyday. We need your helphttps://t.co/uTCwFww27s#COVID19India #CoronavirusIndia pic.twitter.com/ECeD4fHHBL
— Hemkunt Foundation (@Hemkunt_Fdn) April 22, 2021
Founded in 2010, Hemkunt Foundation’s motto is based upon a popular Sikh principle of ‘Sarbat Da Bhalla’ which means welfare for all. The foundation has been working towards providing livelihoods, disaster relief, access to basic human rights and education to those in need.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, the NGO helped in providing relief and rehabilitation to the migrant families that were returning to their home because of the loss of livelihood due to the lockdown. Now, recognising the need of the hour, the organisation started arranging oxygen for critically sick COVID patients in February. As the cases started surging, the NGO started receiving thousands of calls every day. Since April 20, the foundation has been conducting drives to help more patients. Their work is being supported by crowdfunding and donations.
Also Read: Coronavirus Crisis: Cricketers Urge Fans To Follow Guidelines On COVID-19 And Stay Safe Amid The Surging Cases
Currently, the NGO is running two separate drives for providing oxygen cylinders- drive-through and home delivery. The drive-through project runs from a makeshift arrangement where the volunteers check the COVID report and oxygen status of patients. For home delivery, they ask photos of the patient, their COVID test report, recent oxygen level.
Drive Thru is a huge success- 100s of cars are here with Critical #COVID19 patients who need a first aid responder and constant supply of #oxygen. The concept here is to give the patient oxygen until they find a bedhttps://t.co/uTCwFwNCZ0#COVID19India #OxygenCrisis pic.twitter.com/fLDemLcLgu
— Hemkunt Foundation (@Hemkunt_Fdn) April 24, 2021
A resident of Sector 50, Gurugram who procured an oxygen cylinder for her mother said,
I have come to the drive organized by Hemkunt Foundation to take an oxygen cylinder for my mother. She has been suffering for the last two days due to the lack of oxygen. It is a scary situation for all of us.
A resident of Delhi who could not find oxygen supply in the capital reached out to the NGO for help. She said,
I have come here from Delhi. My father is COVID positive. He is an elderly person and there is fluctuation in his oxygen level. So that’s why procuring an oxygen cylinder is really urgent for me. We have come here all the way from Delhi, even though there is a curfew in place, in a hope that we will get some help here.
To avoid any stocking of cylinders, the NGO provides only one cylinder per patient. Those who can afford to pay, deposit token money of Rs. 10,000 which is refundable upon returning the cylinder and those who cannot are given the cylinders for free.
The NGO has also started oxygen collection centres at Versova and Airoli in Mumbai where they take help from Gurudwaras situated in the city to distribute these tanks.
We cannot waste a single minute. You can play the blame game if you want to but we need to get on the ground and work. We can’t waste even a single minute now. It’s now or never, said Mr. Singh on the current shortage and the war over oxygen among states.
Also Read: COVID-19 Emergency: Madhuri Dixit, Bhumi Pednekar And Gul Panag Urge People To Stay At Home & Mask Up
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.