OxygenForIndia (OFI), a volunteer-run campaign to deliver medical oxygen in response to the COVID-19 second wave in India, has announced new partners – Swasth Alliance and Indiaspora to assist in its effort to form a National Oxygen Grid.
The National Oxygen Grid will leverage a combination of existing liquid medical oxygen assets, including storage and transportation tanks, and incoming assets of pneumatic swing adsorption (PSA) plants, oxygen concentrators, and cylinders. The initiative is being co-led by OFI’s founder Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan and Dr. Indu Bhushan the former CEO of Ayushman Bharat and the National Health Mission.
The OxygenForIndia initiative was launched in the wake of the unprecedented oxygen crisis in April 2021, to ensure that no one in India dies due to a lack of medical oxygen. Till date, OFI deployed over 20,000 reusable oxygen cylinders and 3,000 oxygen concentrators in 57 urban and rural centers across India.
To leverage the oxygen assets that entered the country through government, philanthropy and the private sector during the second Covid wave in 2021, OFI has launched the design and development of the National Oxygen Grid. The Grid initiative is a part of OFI’s long term vision of establishing a stable and reliable oxygen supply system for India.
The Swasth Alliance, which has joined OFI as a partner, is a non-profit collaborative of leading Indian healthcare organizations in India that came together during the first wave of the pandemic to build public digital goods in health. Swasth has worked with public, private, and non-profit partners across the country to respond to the multiple waves of the pandemic using digital health technologies. The organization also co-led India’s largest private oxygen relief program during the second wave with ACT Grants. Swasth will assist the National Oxygen Grid initiative by providing insights and data from their work to help build and contribute to the critical capacity building initiative.
“Given the significantly expanded, but unevenly spread, medical oxygenation capacity in the country, we believe it is crucial and timely to create a co-ordinating mechanism to meet future surges in demand as well as ensure access to oxygen for routine care, especially at the last mile” said Dr. Ajay Nair, the CEO of Swasth Alliance.
Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization, is a network of global Indian origin leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions who are committed to inspiring the diaspora to be a force for good by providing a platform to collaborate, build community engagement, and catalyze social change. Indiaspora supported the diaspora’s response to India’s first and second waves by serving as a hub for knowledge and information and by mobilizing resources. Indiaspora will strive to support OxygenForIndia’s effort to build a National Oxygen Grid by raising awareness regarding India’s need for medical oxygen among the Indian diaspora through education and outreach. “India’s devastating second wave exacerbated long-standing problems that need our attention,” said Ashish Shah, Senior Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement at Indiaspora.”It is very gratifying to be a part of this effort to address India’s oxygen needs in the long-term”.
Speaking about these new partnerships, OFI’s founder Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan said, “We have learnt the hard way that an underprepared health system can result in significant loss of human life during emergencies. Patients need oxygen even outside Covid-related requirements, whether for respiratory disorders or during childbirth or trauma care. We are delighted to have Swasth and Indiaspora, which played such an important role during the oxygen crisis, join us in creating a sustainable oxygen grid to ensure that India never has to encounter a similar crisis in the future”.