The world has changed a lot in the past few years. No one imagined that we would be in the situation we are facing right now. As a result of the pandemic, many people are facing financial and familial issues. All of that is in addition to the heightened concerns about one’s health.
A large number of cases in the country, especially during the second wave, have exhausted our country’s medical system. It has led to a major resource crunch. People are forced to find refuge with non-governmental organisations and social media platforms to get essential medical and ration supplies. UPAY has taken the initiative to organise these individual efforts to save each other and ensure that they pay off.
This initiative has coalesced into the UPAY COVID-19 Task Force. The main duty of the task force is to identify and verify social media leads about resource requirements and availability. These resources include oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, hospital beds, and plasma.
The task force is divided into several teams that carry out separate functions to meet their goal. These are – The Social Media team, The Requirement Team and The Resource Team.
How are the teams organised?
The Social Media Team – Our link to the community
Ms Kajal Pawar is leading the social media team. This team is responsible for identifying social media leads regarding the availability and need for essential resources. The most recent leads are identified and passed to the other segments of the task force.
During this process, the team verified many of the leads themselves. They did so the share a load of going through multitudes of contacts from all across India. The teams created a database of verified contacts and shared it between them to resolve the requirements incoming.
The social media team also warns the community if the verification process turns up any bogus contacts. The team did a great job by collaborating with many digital groups and influencers that were active on social media so that the local and geographical information can be passed up and down the teams.
Furthermore, they amplify the need for resources through UPAY’s social media platforms and help people reach a wider audience to fulfill their requirements.. These platforms include Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and Quora.
The Requirement Team – Meeting the need.
Mr Indrapal Neware leads the requirement team at the UPAY COVID-19 Task Force that is responsible for identifying the need for specific medical supplies. The team acted as the first point of contact to the grieving patients and their families who were finding it difficult to manage the crisis. Thus, the team also verifies if the patient’s needs have been met.
This team recognised a need to close the gap between medical professionals and citizens living in remote parts of the country. In response to this need, they brought together a crew of doctors to set up a teleconsultation service for men, women, children and volunteers in villages. It allowed the members of our community in villages to calm their anxieties by consulting a professional, take necessary precaution and sort out small medical queries without ramping up a hefty bill.
The team consisted of UPAY’s senior most members who graciously managed the cries. They not only helped with resources but kept in touch with them even after the need had been fulfilled and made sure to keep the people motivated. There were times when the SOS requests didn’t allow the team enough time to arrange for resources and the patients succumbed.
The Resource Team – Assessing the source.
Ms Jyoti Agarwal is the head of the resource team that is responsible for the identification and verification of resource leads. While it is easy in theory, the task is cumbersome. The volunteers go through 80 to 100 calls a day to find only 5 to 10 of them have a valid supply of necessary items.
This team has the largest number of volunteers given the quantum of work and resources required at all times. Volunteers in this team view asking for advance payment on a medical resource as a major red flag when verifying a source. However, once such a case has been identified, it is hard to take concrete action as it is easy for the ill-intended to hide on social media these days. A different SIM and new contact number do the charm, and they are back in the business of taking advantage of the vulnerable.
Ms Jyoti and her team, which consists of 60 plus volunteers, have identified more than 1000 leads until now. These are medical supply and service contacts from all across India.
Tech-supported Resource Repository
While all these activities started to take shape, two dynamic and tech-enthusiasts came up with an idea to create an app-based repository so that it is easier to find resources from anywhere in India without having to scroll through heavy excel sheets.
Mr Piyush Ranjan and Mr Ajay Thaplial, in a matter of 2 days delivered the fully functional version of the app for public use.
The goal was to create a working application as quickly as possible, and at the same time keep it easier to maintain. Entering data in Google sheets meant volunteers will not have to figure out how to use a new application to enter data. And the simple search on the UI app was intuitive for searching covid-resources on mobile devices and desktops alike, with simple but useful features like call and get direction buttons.
The Other Initiatives by UPAY
Apart from the Covid task team, UPAY has also started a mobile ambulance service in the Mauda and Delhi-NCR. It provides oxygen to critical patients awaiting hospitalisation. UPAY also provides free ambulance service to ensure that patients from remote areas have access to multi-specialty hospitals in the city to avail of proper treatment.
These are just some of the many initiatives taken by UPAY to provide relief during these trying times. You can read more about them here.
A huge applaud to this COVID task force team, working and helping everyone possible to battle these stressful conditions. There are stories where people have lost life, but there are also stories of those who have successfully recovered. There are those stories that remind you of humanity’s innocence and courage and those that remind you of its sly and cunning side too. This task force has seen it all. Despite all the inflated ups and downs of COVID- relief work, they have preserved their will and motivation to work for the communities.
A big thank you and huge cheers to you all.
Written by : Apeksha Jain
Edited by : Ananya Shetty