On one hand, we receive daily news of the havoc being caused by the Covid-19 virus. At the same time, it is heartening to see that Rotarians across India have come to the forefront of the battle against the dreaded virus. Take a look at the great work done by Rotary in the last few months.
Free vaccination centres have been established in many states; oxygen plants have been set up in hospitals; oxygen concentrators are being provided; plasma supplies are being coordinated; and call centres have been set up to provide accurate information and ensure coordination of Covid relief work.
RC Madras was the first to enter into an agreement with the Tamil Nadu government to partner in the Covid relief work including vaccination. The club donated four refrigerated trucks and other cold chain logistic facilities, all costing over ₹1 crore, to the state government for vaccine transportation. Along with the Chennai Corporation, it also organised nine camps over two days across the city, vaccinating 3,000 people free of cost. I congratulate the club president, secretary and other office bearers for their yeoman service.
I request every Rotary leader to talk to their batchmates and sister clubs overseas and co-ordinate the shipment of oxygen concentrators to India.
RC Ujjain has established a 100-bed quarantine centre in Prashanti Garden which belongs to Rtn. Avanish Gupta. Many Rotarians have helped in this wonderful project which was dedicated to the community by the Education Minister of Madhya Pradesh in end-April.
In Delhi, DG Sanjiv Rai Mehra had committed to install 10 oxygen plants in hospitals and one single club alone, RC Delhi Premier, installed seven plants in seven hospitals within two weeks. This ₹2 crore project will benefit hundreds of patients immediately.
I congratulate and salute district and club leaders for their exemplary leadership during this national crisis.
Various factors, including a surge in number of cases, has resulted in shortage of medical oxygen in hospitals across the country. With just over 1,200 cryogenic tankers available for transport of liquid medical oxygen, today we need oxygen concentrators to reach every hospital and nursing home.
The GoI has reduced the GST on oxygen concentrators to 12 per cent till end-June and waived Customs duty. Custom clearance will be granted for such imports by treating them on par with life-saving drugs. I request every Rotary leader to talk to their batchmates and sister clubs overseas and co-ordinate the shipment of oxygen concentrators to India. Rotary clubs must be able to fund this life-saving equipment by approaching philanthropists in their community and other organisations.
As vaccine supplies get restored to adequate levels, we must gear up to ensure that the communities that we live in become safer. There is a genuine concern that the virus may infect the younger population. The safety net of vaccination needs to spread far and wide to cover as many people as possible, as fast as possible.
The writer is a past Rotary International director and chairman, Rotary India’s Covid Task Force.