How To Support India Through Its COVID-19 Crisis

By Steve McLean 5/2/21 |

India has declared a state of emergency as COVID-19 is wreaking havoc and overwhelming the healthcare system in the world’s second most populous country.

India recorded a record 3,689 COVID-19 deaths on May 2 and more than 3,000 people had died from it for four straight days, pushing the country’s total past 215,000. It became the first nation to exceed 400,000 daily cases on May 1 and its number of active cases is at around 20 million.

Making things even worse during India’s second wave of the pandemic is a lack of oxygen and other medical supplies, as well as a shortage of facilities to treat patients. There are also growing fears about the surge of infections in rural regions, where health infrastructure is already inadequate and limited.

The disruption caused by COVID-19 lockdowns to try and prevent spread has had a severe impact on daily wage labourers, migrants and informal workers who were already struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Reports of people dying outside of hospitals in the worst hit city of Delhi, and India’s health system being on the verge of collapse, abound.

The governments of a number of countries are sending medical equipment, including oxygen generation plants, and non-government organizations (NGOs) are raising funds to do what they can to try and ease the crisis in the country of more than 1.3 billion people.

For those interested in making donations to try and help the situation in India, here are some organizations that are making it a priority:

Association for India’s Development

Association for India’s Development (AID) has launched its COVID Relief Fund for India.

AID’s efforts to help defeat India’s second wave include:

  • setting up help lines and help desks across rural India;
  • spreading awareness about vaccinations and reducing misinformation;
  • supplying essential kits that include food items, sanitizers, masks and information booklets;
  • increasing oxygen supplies via concentrators, cylinders and mini plants;
  • and advocating for Indian and international government agreements on vaccine access, logistics and customs support.

AID is a volunteer movement promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. It supports grassroots organizations in India and initiates efforts in various interconnected spheres such as education, livelihoods, natural resources, agriculture, health, women’s empowerment and social justice.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is shipping personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medicines for health providers caring for COVID-19 patients in India. The shipment will go to the non-profit group Calcutta Rescue, which operates a charitable pharmacy in the country.

Direct Relief is a humanitarian organization that was created in 1948 and is active in more than 80 countries and all 50 American states. Its mission is to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. It has provided assistance to locally run healthcare facilities and projects by supplying them with pharmaceuticals, supplies, nutritional supplements and medical equipment.

Direct Relief’s assistance programs focus on maternal and child health, the prevention and treatment of disease, and emergency preparedness and response.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders restarted its emergency response program in Mumbai on April 23.

It has mobilized 60 staff members, including doctors, nurses, anesthesia technicians and psychologists. It’s in the process of recruiting and sending additional teams with COVID-19 experience to care for people who are affected, including those who require hospitalization and oxygen therapy. Its teams are caring for patients in two units within a 2,000-bed field hospital set up by the Indian government specifically to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Doctors Without Borders is also concerned about vulnerable populations and people with other illnesses — such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) — and their ability to access medical care, including oxygen therapy. Its teams are working to ensure continuity of care for people with drug-resistant TB at Shatabdi Hospital’s outpatient department project and at Doctors Without Borders’ own TB clinic in the area.

Doctors Without Borders was founded in France in 1971 as an independent, impartial and neutral organization with the goal of providing medical aid where it’s needed most and bearing witness and speaking out about the plight of the people it treats. It now has offices around the world.


GiveIndia launched its India COVID Response Fund in April 2020 and has reopened it in response to this second wave, which is much worse than the first one.

The organization is raising funds for healthcare NGOs to collaborate with state governments to erect COVID-19 care centre in Delhi and other badly affected cities, while trying to fill some gaps in oxygen supply in hospitals as well as PPE kits, N-95 masks and sanitizers for healthcare workers. The fund will also be used to provide meals and ration kits to communities struggling to make ends meet.

As of May 2, GiveIndia’s current campaign had raised: $4.21 million to boost oxygen supplies; $1.02 million for food for families struggling with hunger; $196,000 to support the families of COVID-19 victims; $196,000 to help patients get medical care and not battle COVID-19 from home; and $178,000 to supply women with no sanitary napkins during this crisis.

GiveIndia has ordered 7,500 five- and 10-litre oxygen concentrators (5,000 from China, 2,000 from the United States and 500 from India), with the first shipment of 350 scheduled to arrive in Kolkata on May 3.

GiveIndia was created in 2000 and has a community of more than 1.5 million donors and more than 150 corporate partners that have supported 2,000 non-profit organizations and impacted more than 10 million people.

Helping Hand For Relief And Development

Helping Hand For Relief And Development (HHRD) has launched an India Relief Fund to help supply medical kits, dignity kits and food packages. It’s working with six partner organizations, including one in Delhi, to provide these much needed relief items.

HHRD provides water and sanitation, hygiene, orphan sponsor and skills development programs in India. It supports the Muslim Charity Hospital in Hyderabad and the Aligarh Bachon Ka Ghar orphanage.

HHRD was founded in 2005 as a global humanitarian relief and development organization that responds to human suffering in emergency and disaster situations around the world. It also works on long-term relief and development programs.

Islamic Relief Canada

Islamic Relief Canada has joined forces with UNICEF to:

  • procure and install oxygen generation plants in hospitals;
  • provide rapid and accurate testing machines in some of the hardest hit districts;
  • and support the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

UNICEF said it needs $21 million for the urgent delivery of additional testing equipment, supplies and oxygen products in India, and more than $50 million for life-saving COVID-19 interventions.

Islamic Relief works with communities to strengthen their resilience to calamities and provide emergency aid when disasters occur. It helps the impoverished access basic services —including education, water and sanitation, and healthcare — through sustainable development schemes.

Khalsa Aid International

Khalsa Aid International is supporting medical networks across India, including established medical organizations, facilities and NGOs that are working on the ground to assist COVID-19 patients.

Khalsa Aid International is a United Kingdom-based humanitarian relief charity that aims to provide aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones around the world. It’s based upon the Sikh principle of "Recognize the whole human race as one."

Khalsa Aid International has two long-term programs. Focus Punjab focuses on providing support in India’s Punjab region. Langar Aid is a dedicated initiative to provide emergency food and water supplies in disaster and war zones.


Oxfam has deployed teams to five of the worst-hit states in India and is appealing for $2 million to fund its emergency response to the crisis.

Oxfam is procuring oxygen tanks, beds, digital thermometers, PPE, hand sanitizer and medical equipment to help government hospitals where supplies are desperately low. It’s also preparing to provide food rations and cash support to stranded migrant workers and other marginalized groups, as well as hand-washing stations in public spaces.

The Oxfam Confederation involves a network of more than 90 countries. It has a mission to build lasting solutions to poverty and injustice, with a focus on improving the lives and promoting the rights of women and girls.

Penny Appeal Canada

Penny Appeal Canada (PAC) is responding to the crisis by providing hospitals in Delhi with oxygen concentration machines, medical supplies and equipment.

PAC is a relief and development organization with a long-term sustainable solution approach. It wants to create the best societies it can and break the cycles of need and poverty for good.

Plan International

Donations to Plan International will help enable its on-the-ground staff in India to:

  • distribute hygiene kits filled with sanitation supplies;
  • reach hard-hit families with food baskets;
  • provide families with vouchers to support livelihoods through lockdowns;
  • supply healthcare workers with PPE and other equipment;
  • set up temporary COVID-19 care centres in hot spot areas;
  • and run mass awareness campaigns with prevention and vaccine information throughout at-risk areas.

Plan International works for and with children, community members and governments so that children around the world can exercise their rights. It focuses on: child protection; clean water and sanitation; climate change; education; economic empowerment; emergencies; gender equality and inclusion; health; and youth engagement.

The organization says its work has reached more than 73 million people in more than 54,000 communities in more than 70 countries through 1,749 projects over the past year.

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