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Supporting older people during the second wave of COVID in India

As India continues to battle a second wave of COVID-19, field workers from our partner, HelpAge India, are on the front line supporting the most marginalised older people.

Dr Shahnawaz Ahad is the Team Lead (Field Response Leader) in Delhi and has described the situation for us.

COVID-19 has had a significant negative impact on our lives, especially for older people. Isolation and neglect have increased severalfold as a result of the lack of socialisation during lockdown. Older people have been the hardest hit by the digital divide. Over the pandemic, there has also been an increase in violence against older people. 

Prioritisation of older people is the need of the hour and the majority of older people want separate COVID-19 security policy and regulations. Isolation, neglect, and exploitation are among their main concerns.

During the second wave, the local community, NGOs and community-based organisations stood firm during the second wave and provided the required help. As a result of the country's scarcity of oxygen, a number of organisations have started an effort called Oxygen on Wheels, which not only gives oxygen to those in need, but also COVID-related help in general, such as medication.

Many good organisations have emerged as the backbone of COVID assistance in the majority of the country's states. They delivered medication, oxygen, and other life-saving supplies to people's homes. In such way HelpAge India has been working on the ground to provide relief to elderly.

Since the second wave, India’s health care system has been facing a lot of difficulties. Hospitals are overburdened. Access to healthcare for older people is difficult, especially in rural India where there is insufficient infrastructure and shortage of health workers.

A psychosocial support hotline, called Elder Line, spreads awareness about vaccinations among people and we provide them with free travel to vaccination sites with the help of Uber Service. However, the digital divide among older people makes it difficult for them to access the vaccine. About 70% of India's older population lives in rural areas where vaccination is difficult to access.”

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Last updated: Mar 01 2022

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