A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit group that functions independently of any government. NGOs, sometimes called civil societies, are organized on community, national and international levels to serve a social or political goal such as humanitarian causes or the environment. For several years, non-governmental organizations also known as NGOs are actively involved in combating challenges related to the environment, education, health, poverty, women empowerment, child protection, social justice, and human rights, etc. Thus, when the pandemic hit India, NGOs given their deep connection in combating various socio-economic issues, have been a natural partner in this endeavor. The government too reached out to the NGOs, knowing that there is nobody better placed than them to understand the pulse at the grassroots and engage closely with communities. In no time, thousands of NGOs engaged with district administrations across the country to combat the situation.
For people including the elderly and children, persons with disabilities, transgenders, the homeless, daily wage workers, migrant workers, and urban poor families, NGOs have been the only point of reference during the ongoing pandemic. The COVID-19 induced lockdowns created an economic crisis on top of a public health emergency. It disrupted the livelihoods of many and put them in dire straits unable to afford food or essential hygiene items such as soaps, masks, and sanitizers.
As the domino effect from the corona virus continued, these NGOs knew much more is needed to be done to mitigate the spread of the disease. Working on the front line, NGOs in every region have been providing food, rations, and hygiene kits to the poor and the needy.
As Hyderabad residents are reeling under an acute shortage of liquid oxygen amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, a city-based non-profitable charitable trust, “Helping Hand Foundation”, has come forward to help citizens with free oxygen service. Earlier HHF works with a mission to contribute to equity in health care and started health emergency services including a free supply of oxygen cylinders. Talking to NDTV about initiative Mohd. Fareed Ullah, manager at HHF said, ”We run various healthcare programs and extend help to ensure better healthcare to people. For instance, we provide free medicines and ration to people who cannot afford them, we guide people with kidney failure to government hospitals and ensure they get free dialysis, provide nutritious food to TB patients. During COVID, with the rise in the patient count, the demand for oxygen cylinders also increased, and various agencies started charging a hefty amount. Our patients approached us and asked if other NGOs are providing oxygen cylinders at a lower cost. It is then we decided to provide this service free of cost.”
The NGO ensures a free supply of 65kgs oxygen cylinders at the doorstep along with pulse oximeters for medically prescribed COVID suspected and positive cases under home isolation care. The team also provides free refilling of oxygen cylinders with no security deposit. Elaborating on the process of exercising the service, Mr. Ullah said, “Whenever a patient contacts us, he/she is connected to our medical team consisting of doctors and counselors. Overcall, our doctors examine the patients and if oxygen therapy is needed, we deliver the cylinder. In case, a patient already has a prescription from some other doctor recommending oxygen therapy, we ask them to send it to us, and then the same process follows. During the course of treatment, all patients are medically supervised and monitored.”
This fight against COVID-19 has been a collaborative effort. And the way in which civil society, stakeholders, and non-government organizations have responded to the pandemic reinforces the power of partnerships. The pandemic has been a phase of learning for all in understanding the gaps in our society. The efforts taken by all are a testament to the collective articulation of social responsibility towards the citizens of the country.
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