Dr Angela Chaudhuri, Partner, Swasti was commissioned by the trustees of the Catalyst Group of Institutions, to lead a COVID19 Response Command Center. This requirement was imminent as it was urgent, since the communities that Swasti and it’s sister organisations serve are among the world’s poorest and most marginalised groups.
In January 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID19 a global health emergency, and by March 11, 2020 it was declared a pandemic. Today it affects 177 countries with almost 10,000 deaths and almost 300,000 positive cases. We are aligned with WHO’s directive of containing the virus and supporting the health systems.
We knew, if there was only one case in these communities, it would spread like wildfire. Angela’s team has been monitoring news of the COVID19 and its spread around the world particularly across the 25 countries Swasti has worked in, to plan a rapid and appropriate public health response. The World Health Organisation has been leading the call to action, and we understand that COVID19 is infectious and is spreading globally at an alarming rate. While in countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka the numbers are limited, we are acutely aware that the case fatality rate is 3.4% only among tested people. And our experts tell us in our communities it is likely to touch 15%
Our communities – the Urban and Rural poor, Women in Factories, Women In Sex Work, Transpersons, Marginalised Gay Men – are at gravest risks. They don’t have access to quality water, leave alone soap or sanitizers, masks nor do many of them homes they can self-quarantine in, nor space for “social distancing”.
Our power has always been in our people, the people we serve and our partnerships. We share what we have been upto in the hope that you’ll share what you’ve been doing too and together, we can #FightCOVID.
Our priorities have been three fold:
- Keep our people safe and cared for
- Continue to support and protect our communities
- Keep you, our partners informed and engaged.
This is what Swasti has been upto for the last five days weeks:
For our people,
- We set up a COVID19 Response Command Centre tasked to monitor the COVID19 situation world-wide and empowered to take rapid decisions and actions concerning staff welfare and community welfare. We are taking stock of the situation every single day and adapting our response. The dynamic advisory updated every few hours is at (link) .This advisory has been made available on our website so that other social impact organisations can utilize this.
- You will notice in our advisory that except those who are not responsible to provide essential services to communities, those who are primary caregivers and those with special requirements are strongly recommended to exercise their choice to work from home. At Swasti, personal comfort is paramount and our advisory educates and empowers our people than enforce rules.
- Resilience Works is a long time partner of the Catalyst Group, that provides our people and their families with counselling services. Many of our people live far away from their families and elderly and can experience anxiety during separation.
- They have been working a little harder to bring in much needed emotional support during these trying and busy times.
- Our frontline health workers have been receiving internal capacity building support and supportive supervision to be able to handle patient flow in the coming months and also to emotionally prepare them for emergent situations.
- All our physical offices have been monitoring guest intake, with a form and temperature check. There are masks available for those with sniffles. People have been giving rides to each other, to avoid public transport. And we’ve been busy doubling up on cleaning and sanitizing
- We’ve moved most of our large meetings to the web.
- Our staff parties continue- this time over zoom where we Bring Our Own Food and drinks!
For our communities
- As much as we have created advisories for ourselves , we have also developed specific
ones for our partners – in factories and community organisations (urban poor, rural poor, women in sex work, marginalised gay men and transpersons). These advisories have also been made available in 7 languages in audio and print, and have been disseminated through our networks using whatsapp, emails and through community leaders.
- We support health workers, other NGOs, factory owners, production managers, and supply chain partners,through half-hour zoom webinars and calls as an information and support group on responding to COVID19. These were initiated on 10th March and slated to continue till 31st March unless there’s a further need.
- Our community presence – health facilitators, nurses, outreach teams – has been trained on responding to queries in the community as well as providing information on local testing locations and helplines
- People Living with HIV on ARV are at risk of COVID19 if there is an interruption to their supply; the recent news of ARVs as a potential cure to COVID19 puts this supply at risk, hence we’re supporting the government to assure at least a 3 month supply of ARVs.
- Some living in apartments, noticed that the workers and staff need to be protected. A couple of us got together and developed a detailed SOP for prevention and protection and conducted training for 237+ staff in 72 hours in five vernacular languages.
Swasti is uniquely positioned to respond to this crisis which requires a strategic framework, strong partnerships, a powerful platform and the commitment to stay the course to protect communities in need. Our relationships with leaders of the health sector and the communities will enable Swasti to coordinate collaborative action for our communities.
Write to us, call us and connect with us
To know more about our Covid-19 Response, visit
Or write to us at [email protected]