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COVID-19 response: India

When coronavirus cases in India surged during a deadly second wave, together with our partners we acted quickly to keep older people safe, with an impact that went far beyond the initial emergency response.

In April 2021, infection rates were spiralling out of control in India and many older people were unable to access vaccinations and healthcare. The most marginalised were left isolated and struggled to earn a living or access food and essentials. We were already working with our long-standing partners HelpAge India and GRAVIS and, thanks to our donors, we were able to increase our support and reach even more older people in need of assistance.

The Disasters Emergency Committee and its members, including Age International, raised over £14m with its Coronavirus Appeal for India. With funds from the appeal, we were able to ensure older people got the help they needed, whether it was supporting them to access vaccinations, or providing food and diet supplements to ensure they got the right nutrition.

Responding to India’s second wave with our partners

HelpAge India has been working in India for over four decades and across 25 states, providing care and advocating for the rights of older people. Along with Age UK and Age International’s forebear Help the Aged, they were one of the founding members of the HelpAge Global Network. They were our main partner for this emergency response.

Our other partner, GRAVIS, is based in Rajasthan where it reaches thousands of community members through its outreach and training programmes. GRAVIS also runs a hospital that provides support to many people who cannot access healthcare elsewhere. This is especially important as in April 2021 India’s health system was overwhelmed with a lack of beds, isolation units, essential medical equipment, supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical and frontline workers.

With the funds provided, our partners responded to the crisis with:

They also distributed PPE kits to 150 medical staff and frontline workers and provided support to help over 6,000 older people and their families boost their health and nutrition.

Staff interview - how our Coronavirus Appeal for India helped thousands of older people

Our colleague Poppy Walton helped coordinate our response to the devastating second wave of coronavirus in India. 

Hear from Poppy

It doesn’t end there

While this kind of support is very valuable, it may seem like a drop in the ocean when compared to the scale of need at the time. But it is important to remember that we are only one supporting organisation - both partners are large, well-respected, and influential organisations and with others, we are helping them to do more of what they are very good at.

Our support can sometimes help in-country partners secure more assistance - with appeal funds catalysing investment from other donors and many protracted crises continuing to receive support long after our initial emergency appeal funds have run out. Our work with HelpAge India and GRAVIS won't end when appeal funds do, as Age International provides them with an annual grant in addition to supporting them to find further funding for their important work.

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