As India faces what is rapidly turning into the most catastrophic outbreak of Covid-19 in the world, Israeli aid groups have rallied to send aid to the beleaguered country.

On Tuesday this week, the number of new cases of Covid a day in India reached 360,960, breaking all previous record daily figures worldwide, and raising India’s figure of new cases for just one week, to over 2.1 million. The number of dead rose to 201,187, though health experts believe the official toll is far higher.

“The scale of the crisis currently unfolding in India is simply overwhelming,” said Yotam Polizer, CEO of IsraAID, an Israeli non-governmental humanitarian aid agency. “As a humanitarian organization that has responded to COVID-19 in 17 countries up-to-now, we felt we could not just stand by.”

IsraAID is dispatching medical equipment and supplies, including oxygen concentrators, to Indian healthcare facilities and organizations, and will explore technological solutions to meet gaps in Covid-19 response and care, including data management, logistical support, vaccinations, and more.

IsraAID provides Covid relief in Colombia. Photo by Alexandra Insignares, courtesy IsraAID

The non-profit, which partners on the ground with the Israel-India Forum at Tel Aviv University, Indian civil society organizations and healthcare providers, will also respond to the devastating secondary effects of the pandemic, including a growing mental health crisis, launching self-care programs for frontline health workers to build community resilience and “help the helpers”.

An overwhelmed health system

India, which is in its second wave of Covid, is suffering major shortages of medical supplies, including oxygen, ventilators, syringes and more. Hospitals in the country are overwhelmed and on the brink of collapse as they struggle to cope with the rapid influx of new Covid patients.

Israeli aid group, SmartAID is also sending a first shipment of 200 large oxygen concentrators to major hospitals in New Delhi in partnership with the Ted Arison Family Foundation, DHL, and local nonprofit groups in New Delhi.

The shipment will be followed by an additional one with a few thousand oxygen concentrators in cooperation with Indian American communities in the United States.

“SmartAID jumped into action as soon as we heard of the unfolding crisis in India,” said

Alethea Gold – SmartAID Global Goodwill Ambassador. “We have been working tirelessly with our local partners in New Delhi to put together this support package which is aimed at reducing the escalating number of deaths.”

IsraAID supplies medical supplies to treat Covid to Chinese hospitals. Photo courtesy IsraAID.

Since Covid broke out in China over a year ago, IsraAID has sent aid to more than 8 million people across 17 countries worldwide.

In February last year, the organization sent medical supplies to Chinese hospitals and offered remote self-care training for frontline Chinese health workers.

Last month, the organization launched its Global Vaccine Access initiative in African country Eswatini, to support the government as it implements a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination program.

“With life in Israel returning to a pre-pandemic “normal”, it is crucial to remember our shared responsibility to partner with communities facing the worst of it,” said Polizer. “The pandemic will not be over for anybody until it is over for everybody.”

Health workers wearing PPE arrive to take part in a check up at a slum in India during the Covid-19 crisis. Photo by Shutterstock