Israel’s first consignment of oxygen generators arrives in Delhi
The first consignment of oxygen generators and concentrators from Israel arrived in Delhi on Wednesday, as the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government there extended its strong support to India in its battle with the catastrophic second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
More such flights will follow throughout this week, carrying emergency medical aid, including group and individual oxygen generators, respirators, medications, and additional medical equipment, as per an official statement issued by the Israeli Embassy here.
Ron Malka, Ambassador of Israel to India, said in a statement, “In this hour of need, our two democracies stand solidly side by side. The state of Israel is happy to lend a helping hand to our friend India in this complicated and difficult time. Our friendship is strong and collaboration during the Covid-19 crisis will only make it stronger. I see great importance in the cooperation with India in this joint fight against the global pandemic.”
This comprehensive delivery of medical equipment to India is the result of the cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the National Security Council, Health Ministry, Finance Ministry, and Control Centre, together with full coordination with the Indian government through the Indian Embassy in Israel, the statement said.
A task force was set up to gather support for Israel’s aid to India. Several private entities, Israeli companies, NGOs and the people of Israel have come together to contribute towards this aid.
“In the first outbreak of Covid-19 in Israel, India mobilised to assist Israel, and within this framework approved the air delivery of masks, gloves, and raw materials for medications to Israel, and also helped arrange the repatriation of Israeli citizens. Now, Israel is proud to reciprocate this significant gesture,” the Embassy said.
Last year, a high-ranking Israeli delegation had travelled to India and completed a series of tests to determine the effectiveness of several Israeli technologies developed for the rapid diagnosis of Covid-19. This was called ‘Operation Open Skies’.
The statement said that Israel delivered aid and supplies, including ventilators, that were exported to India following an exceptional approval. In recent months, the Embassy contributed advanced medical equipment and technologies to hospitals in Delhi, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The past few years have cemented the strategic relations between India and Israel, includig two historical visits by the Prime Ministers of both the nations.
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, both countries have shared mutual assistance in dealing with the virus and are committed to joint technological and scientific research.
US Chamber of Commerce sends aid to help India fight Covid 2.0
The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, a newly-formed public-private partnership formed by the US Chamber of Commerce with nearly 40 tech giants on board, on Wednesday announced to start sending crucial aid to address the grim Covid situation in India.
Supported by the non-profit Business Roundtable, the Task Force will coordinate a coalition of corporations, non-profits and individual efforts to organise 1,000 Medtronic ventilators (to be delivered to India starting Wednesday), 25,000 oxygen concentrators scheduled to be delivered by the end of May (thousands already delivered) and offer practical guidance on supporting employees in India via a network of human resources.
Medtronic will manufacture the ventilators and handle end-to-end shipping, installation and ongoing and virtual training.
The Task Force said in a statement that it is working with the Chamber’s US-India Business Council and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum towards helping India.
“The Global Task Force is working in close collaboration with the US and Indian government officials to share information and coordinate efforts. This includes regular briefings with the Narendra Modi and Joe Biden administrations, US Congress, US State Department and the US Agency for International Development,” the statement added.
The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response was launched last month to provide a unified platform for businesses to mobilise and deliver resources to assist Covid control efforts in areas of the highest need around the world.
The initial efforts will focus on the pressing need for support in India.
“What we are witnessing in India is a stark reminder that while the US has turned a corner in our efforts to combat the pandemic, our global partners are facing a staggering health crisis that requires a substantial public-private response,” Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, had said in an earlier statement.
The coalition of leading companies and associations that have come together to support the cause includes Accenture, Adobe, Amazon, American Express, Apple, Citi, Dell, Deloitte, Facebook, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Mastercard, Microsoft, Pfizer, Qualcomm Foundation, VMware, and Walmart, among others.
More companies come forward to help India fight Covid
US home improvement retailer Lowe on Wednesday pledged to donate Rs 40 crore to support India in its second and more lethal wave of Coronavirus pandemic.
The funds will support the procurement of medical equipment, oxygen concentrators and cylinders, oxygen generation plants and vaccination drives for the underserved.
“To support India during the current surge in the pandemic, Lowe’s is contributing Rs 40 Crore towards Covid-19 relief,” the company said in a statement.
“Lowe’s US has also shipped thousands of PPE kits materials to India for the use of frontline workers who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe and healthy,” it added.
Lowe’s India works across technology, analytics, business operations, finance and accounting, product management, and shared services.
Further, Harman International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, contributed Rs 10 crore to PM-CARES to help in Covid-19 relief efforts.
“It is heartening to see the entire nation coming together in this fight against the pandemic. Keeping in mind our commitment towards the community and our country at large, we are contributing funds to PM Cares in order to aid the governments’ endeavour to combat the Covid-19 crisis. Let us all pledge together in supporting India to flatten the curve,” said Prathab Deivanayagham, Country Manager, Harman India, in a statement on Wednesday.
Earlier, the company had also announced that it will cover the cost of vaccination for as many as 8,400 Indian employees and their dependents who are enrolled in the company’s medical benefits programme.
The company has partnered with Apollo hospital to provide medical care for its employees, expanded their insurance covers and is offering financial support for urgent medical situations for its workforce.
US-based financial services company Wells Fargo has also responded to India’s Covid crisis with a grant of $3 million for health care and emergency response.
The funds aim to provide portable hospital annex units with 200 beds, deploy oxygen concentrators to hospitals, deliver Covid-19 isolation kits for people recovering at home, support ICU ambulances to help transport patients to hospitals.
The grants will go to United Way agencies in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai; Nirmaan Organisation; Akshaya Patra Foundation; Mantra Social Services; and NASSCOM Foundation.
“It’s been heartbreaking to see the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in India,” said Bill Daley, vice chairman of Public Affairs, in a statement.
“Our priority is caring for our employees and local communities in India. These grants can help nonprofits quickly provide much needed medical equipment and build capacity while providing care for those affected and support for healthcare professionals tirelessly working to save lives,” he added.
Wells Fargo has also taken steps throughout the pandemic for the health and safety of its employees in India and globally through remote work and enhanced benefits.
The grants are in addition to $225 million in philanthropic contributions for Covid-19 relief that Wells Fargo has deployed globally since 2020.
86 institutions allocated foreign donated Covid materials
A total of 24 different categories of items numbering nearly 40 lakhs have been distributed to 86 institutions in 31 States and Union Territories, said Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF) on Tuesday.
Major categories of equipment include BiPAP Machines, Oxygen (Oxygen Concentrators, Oxygen Cylinders, PSA Oxygen Plants, Pulse Oximeters), Drugs (Flaviparivir and Remdesivir), PPE (Coveralls, N-95 masks and gowns).
The medical items started coming in as donations from different countries after the sudden rise in Covid cases across the different parts of the country, via Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The materials are being given by countries due to the immediate and urgent requirements in different parts of the country.
MoHF said the help is “over and above what government of India is already providing, and is thus an additionality for the states and UTs”.
As the different tranches are coming in, the Ministry said, the rest of the states and UTs will also be covered in the coming days.
The institutions which have received the equipment are eight from Delhi and NCR (LHMC Delhi, Safdarjung Hospital, RML Hospital, AIIMS Delhi, DRDO, 2 hospitals in Delhi (Moti Nagar & Pooth Kalan), NITRD Delhi and ITBP Noida); two in North East (NEIGRIHMS Shillong and RIMS Imphal); four in north (AIIMS Bathinda, PGI Chandigarh, DRDO Dehradun, AIIMS Jhajjar); eleven in east (AIIMS Rishikesh, AIIMS Rae Bareli, AIIMS Deoghar, AIIMS Raipur, AIIMS Bhubaneswar, AIIMS Patna, DRDO Patna, AIIMS Kalyani, DRDO Varanasi, DRDO Lucknow, District Hospital Pilibhit); and four in west (AIIMS Jodhpur, DRDO Dehradun, DRDO Ahmedabad, Govt Satellite Hospital Jaipur).
One institute in Central (AIIMS Bhopal); three in south (AIIMS Mangalagiri, AIIMS Bibinagar, JIPMER Puducherry); and five in Central government and Public Sector Units (CGHS, CRPF, SAIL, Railways, ICMR) have been allocated these equipment.
A cell was created in the Ministry under Additional Secretary (Health), MoHFW to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign Covid relief material as grants, aid and donations. This Cell started functioning on April 26 this year and comprises of one Joint Secretary on deputation from Ministry of Education, two Additional Secretaries level officers from MEA, Chief Commissioner Customs, Economic Advisor from Ministry of Civil Aviation, Technical Advisor Dte. GHS, Representatives from HLL, two Joint Secretaries from MoHFW and Secretary General along with other representatives from IRCS.
Later on, the MoHF, said the supplies coming from private companies and entities also started routing through the Niti Aayog and are handled by this cell.
The Indian customs is sensitive to the need for availability of Covid related imports including Oxygen and Oxygen related equipment and are working round the clock to fast track and clear the goods on arrival and lead to expeditious clearance within hours.
For the expeditious clearance of these materials on fast-track basis, the goods are given high Priority for clearance by the customs systems for processing over other goods, and nodal officers also get alert on email for monitoring and clearance. Indian customs have waived basic Customs Duty and Health cess on goods identified for fighting Covid. When imported free of cost and distributed freely, based on the state government certification, IGST is also waived.
Further, for import of oxygen concentrators for personal use, IGST has been reduced from 28 per cent to 12 per cent.