Winding Up Our Covid Relief Work In 2 Weeks: But Help Is Still Needed
When we started our covid relief efforts in March we had expected that that the hard lockdown, while imposing great hardship on people, would help us beat the virus. That was not to be. In Mumbai, we are starting our fourth month of tough restrictions with minimal resumption of business. The number of covid-19 cases continue to rise and we don't know what July will bring when the monsoon intensifies and brings with it a host of annual maladies.
At Moneylife Foundation, we put all our normal activity on hold to plunge full time into covid relief work, after we got ourselves registered with NITI Aayog's Darpan database. But this is permitted only for a short duration since it is not part of our charter.
Our e-mail helplines have always been open, but as many of you members have urged - it is time to re-connect digitally with seminars and lectures. There is a lot to do, people need guidance and counseling as they cope with job losses, reduction in interest on savings and the struggle to cope with issues in a shutdown. We will soon come back with an announcement on the resumption of our seminars and counseling sessions -senior citizens all exclusively online.
But before we close our covid relief journey, let me assure all of you that we will always stand with our hospitals and healthcare workers who continue to work tirelessly to keep us safe at the cost of their own lives. So, all donations until 5th July will continue to be used for covid work, after which we close that window.
We have kept you updated on our relief work through fortnightly updates through these last three months. So many of you have been incredibly generous with your support and we have been moved by the repeat donations that so many of you have made, including our own colleagues.
It has motivated us to ensure that the money was well spent, that we got the best deal possible at any given point of time and to deliver products of quality to our Corona Warriors. We have also been victims of the pandemic of corruption and profiteering that was unleashed by the virus and have battled that as well, with mixed results. More about that later. Now let me update you on what we did in June.
Advocacy Efforts During the Lockdown
For starters, the PIL filed by me in collaboration with activist Anjali Damania led to the Bombay High Court has asked the regulator to re-consider the issue of placing price caps on N95 masks. You can read more on this here . But the NPPA and the government are still making excuses to avoid capping prices and is allowing our healthcare workers to be fleeced. So this battle will carry on.
On a positive note, we were able to persuade the municipal commissioner from cancelling a tender to procure body bags at a stunning 30 times the cost (over Rs6,400 each) that we had paid (Rs 180 and Rs201 each, in two different purchases), which were also of standards specified by the corporation and through a supplier to municipal hospitals! You wonder why the corporation would frame a tender so as to get an super-expensive body bag, which would be used for just a few hours to transport a body to a crematorium or burial, don't you? You can read more about it here.
Kawach Masks, Reusable Rubber Gloves and Oxymeters
Kawach face masks manufactured by an IIT Delhi startup are proving to be an excellent, scientific and economical alternative to expensive N95 masks for most people, especially senior citizens, those with co-morbidities and even non-covid health care workers. We have been supplying them to hospitals in Mumbai and have had several repeat requests. Read more about it here and how you can buy them.
This time we also donated Kawach masks to NGOs working with Multiple Sclerosis Society of India, senior citizens (Silver Innings Foundation which runs an assisted living centre and senior citizens' home) and Anandwan Wellness Centre that cares for people with mental health issues.
Anandwan Wellness Foundation, a facility that provides treatment for those suffering from mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Dementia and others, had contacted us for assistance with food essentials for their live-in patients. We were able to procure large quantities of essentials such as Kolam Rice (100kgs), Refined Flour (100kgs), Cooking Oil (50 Litres) and Toor Dal (50kgs) for the patients and staff, and had it delivered directly to their facility in Nallasopara. We are also deeply grateful to Sailesh Mishra, who heads Silver Innings Foundation, for assisting in delivering kawach masks and cleaning gloves to this facility.
A while ago, Mr Pulkit from Prime World, donated reusable rubber gloves towards our relief efforts. We have continued to distribute them to hospitals, NGOs and cleaning and kitchen workers.
Oxygen Masks and Surgical Caps
Over the past few months, we have repeated requests for certain items of heavy use. They include oxygen masks with reservoir bags, thermal scanners, oxymeters, body bags and even paper bags to be able to recycle N95 masks, which remain in short supply. A surprise request was the heavy shortage of disposable surgical caps across hospitals. We were able to distribute thousands of these to Sion, Nair, Cooper Hospital, Ackworth Leprosy Hospital and Rajawadi Hospital among others. Some requirements remain in the works, since manufacturers are also struggling with staff shortages and supplies.
Face Shields and Disposable Bedsheets
We have already told you about hospitals switching to use of disposable bedsheets for covid patients. Finding the right quality at the right price was a challenge the second time around, because the original supplier ran out of stock. Happily, we have managed to deliver 20,000 bedsheets of a higher quality to 14 hospitals this time and will probably do more before winding up our work.
Another unique request was from Cama & Albless Hospital for Viral Transport Mediums (VTMs). As we discovered, these are tubes used to safely transport covid-19 test samples to a laboratory for testing - we mention this only to convey the diversity of challenges that are faced by our hospitals and healthcare workers in the fight to keep us safe. We are not even going into the urgent need for expensive drugs such as Tocilizumab, Remdesivir and Faviparivir. If we turn lucky, like we did with Cipla Foundation, we would like to wind up our relief work by getting some of these for needy patients. But we would really like to get these at manufacturers' prices.
I hope all of you have read about our effort led by Peter Theobald to help little Tabraak, the 11-year old who took his parents home over 600 kms in a tricycle. The family has received well over Rs 2.7 lakhs from warm-hearted Indians and the All India Bank Depositors Association (AIBEA), as well as pledges to support the children's education. Read more here.
Moneylife TV & Helplines
With the outbreak of covid-19, our events and daily clinics for this month have been suspended for the safety and benefit of all those involved. However, in this lockdown period you can still take advantage of our numerous videos of past seminars and workshops which are always available on our YouTube Channel Moneylife TV and Moneylife News Bites.
Although counselling on various issues from our experts is not possible in-person, you are welcome to email on [email protected] with your details. We shall forward your mail to the expert for guidance and do our best to get your query resolved.
Also, Moneylife Foundation is now on Telegram and Instagram, so do follow us on these channels to stay updated on our activities and events.
Thank you for your support, stay safe and look forward to your good wishes always.
Founder-Trustee, Moneylife Foundation
Trustees: TS Krishnamurthy, Dr KC Chakrabarty, Walter Vieira, Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu.
Moneylife Foundation is registered with the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai, is an Affiliate member of OECD's International Network on Financial Education, is a Supporter Member of Consumers International, Development Partner of Advocates for International Development (A4ID), and is a winner of the 10th MR Pai Memorial Award.
Donations are eligible for tax benefits under Sec 80G of the Income Tax 1961 (50% tax exemption) and MLF is registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.