As the world struggles with Covid 19 and its fall out, some suffer more than others. This is the case in India. The vast population (1.3 billion), overcrowding, ignorance, poverty, superstition and an inefficient health system are some of the challenges that complicate the situation. A few of our supporters have asked about the situation in India and how they can help. Regarding the pandemic itself, as of now there are about 4000 cases and 80 deaths. This is expected to get worse. As is the case in many countries, there is a need for ventilators, masks and other basic supplies and equipment. EHA's 22 hospitals have not yet had any cases, but they are gearing up to take care of people.
There is a further complication adding to the misery. The Government, in its effort to prevent spread, ordered a country wide lockdown. This has been difficult to implement and is hard on millions of poor people. The sprawling cities are filled with people engaged in the "informal economy". This refers to day labourers who migrate from their villages to the cities to live in squalid slums. With the lockdown, these hapless individuals, now out of work and with no money to survive in the cities, have to go back to their villages. The railway system, which most of them relied, on has been shut down. There are few buses. The only solution is to travel by foot-literally hundreds of miles. It is heart-breaking to see images of thousands of people, some with young children in tow, as they trudge back to their homes in the hinterland. Further, it is hard for them to find food and shelter on the way. EHA, with other agencies is trying to help.
Over its 50 year history, EHA's Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) has been responding to disasters. Beginning with the Kosovo crisis in 1999, EHA has had experience in 39 disasters. I personally witnessed them in action during the Boxing Day Tsunami that devastated the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2004 and the Gujarat earthquake (2001). We recently raised funds for their work after the Nepal earthquake (2015). With respect to the pandemic, to date EHA is preparing for an expected influx of cases. They are planning strategy in cooperation with other agencies, both governmental and nongovernmental. Staff are being trained as they try to acquire supplies and equipment. They are reaching out to communities to educate them in prevention etc. Food and other necessities are being distributed to the migrants as they head home.
The Christian church has always been in the forefront of relief efforts and health care. In the smallpox and measles epidemics that ravaged Europe in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Christians, risking their very lives, lovingly nursed the sick and the indolent back to health. EHA's work stands in the line of a long and noble tradition.
This is a time of economic challenges for many of our regular donors. It is of first importance that we look after our families and ourselves. However, if you have the means to help and are moved to do so, please consider a donation. Above all, do remember India, the EHA workers, the poor migrants and the government in your prayers.
EHA Canada President