Today, we are looking at life in times of COVID-19, a pandemic that is impacting everyone world over. No one can escape this deadly virus unless they take all the precautions listed by public health professionals.
Governments all over the world are running from pillar to post to make the lives of every citizen secure and making maximum efforts to tide over this calamity. The question is, as to how to bring about a government-private partnership and use the skill sets of the private sector in combating this situation.
Over the last five years, companies have mobilized their resources to meet the mandate of corporate social responsibility and do their bit for the society in India.
I have always felt that organizations have a more efficient and systematic way of dealing with problems and finding solutions. The contribution of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds will provide the required stimuli to the efforts at this very significant period to contain the pandemic. The private sector has been given a go-ahead by the government to support testing efforts during this crucial time. Companies have set up huge networks to deliver their CSR projects through NGOs (non-governmental organizations) or their foundations. These NGOs and foundations have been doing commendable jobs in the field of education, health, and medicine.
Below mentioned are a few ways in which organizations can deploy their CSR resources to assist in the ongoing crisis.
Provide Nutritious Food to the Poor
Casual laborers are leaving cities in hordes and moving to their villages. The central and state government have been taken by surprise. This is a situation they had not envisaged. Providing shelter and food kitchen was not the solution for a large number of them. There are well-known NGO’s providing mid-day meals to school children in all the states. Their kitchens are State-of-the-Art, well equipped and hygienic. Such NGOs can come forward during such a crucial time and tie up with government agencies and their private donors to provide healthy and nutritious food to the poor without any source of income.
Assist in the COVID-19 Testing Efforts
Daily wage earners have been thrown out of their homes, they are confused and distraught. Also, on returning to their hometowns these migratory population is facing difficulty to enter their villages due to prohibitory orders made by the village administration to contain the spread of the virus in their villages. This situation calls in for immediate response from the government agencies wherein they can deploy the force of the village level health workers to spread awareness regarding the symptoms and mitigation of the disease in synergy with the village sarpanch to ease the suffering of the people facing migration.
We can’t deny the fact that once they reach their villages, it will be difficult to stop the spread of COVID-19 to rural areas. Providing medical care in the rural areas is going to become extremely critical. Organizations conducting CSR projects in health and medicine should go the extra mile and provide healthcare and medicines in the interiors of the country. The leading organizations can decrease the burden of the present-day COVID-19 testing infrastructure by supporting no-cost testing for the poor.
Under the CSR healthcare initiative, some organizations have deployed medical mobile vans to provide healthcare facilities to the underprivileged, thus, bridging the gap in the existing system. These mobile vans can be equipped well and can be used for testing of COVID-19. These mobile vans can share the burden of the present-day COVID-19 testing infrastructure and can be deployed in the rural areas throughout the country. A big factor in preventing the spread of the virus is to identify positive cases in the community and isolate them immediately. These mobile vans can also be utilized as MICUs (Mobile Intensive Care Units) which can be deployed in the underdeveloped and farfetched areas of the country.
Leverage Technology to Facilitate COVID-19 Treatment
The Indian IT companies can come together and provide innovative technological solutions to accumulate data points on health symptoms and wellbeing of the communities using their cloud technology by leveraging the penetration of digital medium thus trace and help the COVID-19 patients.
Telemedicine is another way of delivering quality health care where the technology can again play a vital role to reduce the contraction of the disease. NGOs implementing telemedicine programs for Corporates and having established a telemedicine network in the rural spread. This digital platform can open pathways to disseminate information in the local communities as in today’s time everyone is digitally connected.
Support and Mentor SMB’s (small and medium-sized businesses)
Amidst the lockdown and halt in the current business activities, it is quite evident that small scale businesses will be first to get significantly impacted through this economic fallout during the pandemic. It becomes the responsibility of the leading business groups and noble philanthropic organizations to come forward in support to mentor them on crisis management and initiate a coordinated effort to provide emergency funding to such organizations.
All our concentration and efforts so far have been on the metro and big cities, but we have a large population in the villages, small towns, and districts where community spread has to be stopped to eradicate COVID-19. It becomes the civic duty of every public and private Indian organization to come forward and join hands to save our rural peers from this gruesome virus.
Now, there is a need to mobilize all available resources and make the optimum use of the available and existing infrastructure for the time during which we are fighting the pandemic. The public and private partnership and healthcare databases that are being put into place in this hour will play a pivotal role in the future to strengthen the nation’s health care system. I feel if these public-private partnerships continue to strive the way it is during the virus we can put in place a world-class health care system for the country and in due course, the country’s health care infrastructure will be better prepared to handle such pandemics.
Our take is to combine all the resources of the government and the private sector and defeat the deadly virus.