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India’s COVID-19 Crisis: Who Is Responsible For The Tears?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

*Trigger Warning: Covid Death*

In the wake of the current pandemic, India is going through a horrible crisis. Empty streets, deserted markets and rushing ambulances with eerie sirens and burning crematoriums tell a tragic tale.

The second wave of COVID-19 has hit us hard. It has caught the healthcare system and people at large off their guards. It is massive already and is only getting bigger, leaving destruction in its wake. The situation is very alarming.

Daily Life Amid Coronavirus Pandemic In India
Representative Image. (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

As It Stands

The daily reported number of new covid cases is breaking records every day. As per the data released by the MoHFW, it has already crossed the 4 lakh mark. There is a consequent surge in mortality too. With the ever-increasing daily rise in COVID-19 cases, the pressure on doctors and healthcare staff is mounting.

Hospitals in most of the states are fully packed. Despite their endless efforts, people are struggling even to get their loved ones (with severe symptoms) beds in these hospitals, let alone treatment. It’s heartbreaking to hear of patients dying unattended just outside hospitals. A vacant bed in a hospital has become a luxury not many can afford today.

The National Oxygen Emergency

As if this wasn’t enough trouble to deal with, hospitals nationwide face an oxygen crisis, with some experts even calling it a “National Oxygen Emergency”. Clearly, the sudden increase in demand for medical oxygen has outweighed the current supply leading to this crisis. On top of this, the centre, like a referee, quietly watches the states fight over oxygen supply as the clock ticks by.

Many premier hospitals of the country, running short of oxygen, are using Twitter and other social media platforms to reach out to the government. They face an acute shortage of oxygen, which happens to be the most vital tool in our fight against the virus. Doctors feel helpless as they watch their patients pant to death like fish taken out of water.

Black Marketing Doesn’t Stop

India Faces Oxygen Crisis As Covid-19 Cases Mount
As Covid-19 cases continued to surge in India people are struggling to get hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, injections and medicines with the health infrastructure in the state stretched to its limit. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

At a time when their countrymen are struggling for survival, some people can’t help making cash out of their miseries. Despite all the measures put in place, black marketing isn’t slowing down. The standard medicines prescribed for the treatment of COVID-19 are reportedly out of stock unless one offers extra cash to chemists.

The EUA authorised antiviral drug Remdesivir has become a daydream to the patients as it is being hoarded by family and friends of the distributors and collectors alike. Oxygen cylinders continue to be illegally hoarded and sold to the patients at as high as 10 times the original cost.

Some can still afford all this, but what about those who can’t? Do they not have an equal right to life? Who do they reach out to? Black marketing needs to stop right now.

People Demand Answers

Be it that helpless mother whose son collapsed in her lap failing to get treatment, that devastated daughter who lost her father to the negligence of the hospital or that wife whose desperate CPR to her husband couldn’t revive him, these painful sights will never leave our memories. The whole country is crying.

But who is responsible for those tears? Why is there a shortage of beds, oxygen and medicine? Whom does a common person call for help? Couldn’t the government have done better than organising super spreader events and patting its own back? Surely the system has failed big times. Although it’s probably not the right time to point fingers, these questions can’t be avoided. The citizens demand answers, but it seems the government has put a deaf ear to their woes.

What Can You Do?

Stay indoors unless urgent. Put on a mask, preferably two, before stepping out. Keep washing your hands regularly. Check out the guidelines laid by the WHO and the MoHFW for more details.

Our collective responsibility is to break the chain of transmission of this virus by taking utmost precautions and following ‘covid appropriate behaviours. Get your shot of the vaccine at the earliest. Do not be complacent at any cost.

And yes, help as many people as you can in whatever way possible. Your little aid can save someone’s life, someone’s world from falling apart.

Some helpful links and helplines:

  • MoHFW Helpline Number: +91-11-23978046
  • Home isolation guidelines for mild/asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.
  • Dr Reddy’s website for Remdesivir enquiry.
  • Covid support, an initiative by IIT Kanpur.
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  1. Opinion: India’s Oxygen Crisis Wasn’t Unimaginable, It Was Unparalleled |

    […] is the life gas that India cried for during this pandemic. This type of Oxygen shortage has never been witnessed before, but this […]

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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