‘Pune model’ of collaboration among all Covid stakeholders is going pan-India

Mission Vayu has so far deployed 7,800 oxygen concentrators, 875 ventilators and 50,000 oximeters nationwide with additional equipment en route.

The Supreme Court has praised the ‘Mumbai model’ of management of oxygen supplies during the second wave of Covid-19. There is a ‘Pune model’, too, that is showing the way to deal with the pandemic through collaboration between all stakeholders.

The Pune Platform for Covid Response (PPCR), anchored at the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), comprises 250-plus private and government hospitals, more than 10 government offices, over 150 corporates and 50 non-profit sector members. It has been working since the outbreak in March 2020 and has continued to do so through the second wave to reduce the distress faced by Covid-19 patients, their families and the healthcare system. PPCR is a virtual platform that started working in Pune first, then across Maharashtra and now across the country.

From raising funds to channelling resources, from distribution of ration kits to arranging ventilators/ HFNOs, and from training medical staff to counselling citizens, PPCR has been supplementing government efforts and helping the system sustain the pandemic pressure, Sudhir Mehta, lead and co-ordinator of PPCR and president of MCCIA, said.

The group identified the pain points and inadequacy in the healthcare infrastructure at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and worked towards filling the gaps. It has become an interface between hospitals, the local administration, state and central governments. The Tata group, Bajaj Group, Tata AutoComp, Thermax, Finolex Pipes, Abhay Firodia family, Naushad Forbes family and host of other industries have chipped in with funds.

When the pandemic began, there were 4,000 Covid-19 beds in Pune district with 300 ventilators. PPCR was able to increase bed capacity by 60% to 28,000 by April 2021 and more than treble number of ventilators to 1,400. Around 60% of the district’s critical healthcare capacity of ICU and ventilators were facilitated by PPCR.

It also facilitated 12 oxygen generator plants, with a combined capacity of generating 12 tonne a day. Despite having the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases in the country at one point, Pune faced no critical oxygen shortages, Mehta said. Pune’s ventilator, ICU and overall bed capacity is now equal to Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai despite less availability of government hospitals and state-run facilities, he said.

PPCR’s latest effort is Mission Vayu. As the demand for oxygen and ventilators skyrocketed amid the second surge in Covid-19 cases, PPCR got on to the job of procuring and donating BiPaPs and oxygen concentrators to the worst-affected areas and hotspots in Maharashtra and now even to Delhi, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Led by the PPPCR, anchored at MCCIA, and supported by ACT Grants and the Swasth Alliance, Mission Vayu has so far deployed equipment worth `100 crore.

According to Mehta, requests have been pouring in from every corner of the country. “For more than a year, we have continued to supplement efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic… It also helped that the Union government responded to the request of waiving customs duty on oxygen and related critical items,” he said.

PPCR has so far arranged more than 300 ventilators, 130 HFNOs, 12,000 units of blood through blood donation drives, 3,000 pulse oximeters, 50,000 PPE kits, 3.2 lakh masks, a 600-bed Covid-19 care facility, support management of a 24-hour call centre for patients and families, implementation and handling of bed management software, part of the district-wide vaccination drives, and distribution of 14.71 lakh meals.

Mission Vayu is anchored by various corporate partners and foundations, including Singapore-headquartered investment firm Temasek and Temasek Foundation. The three-phase project with an estimated investment of `100 crore has been planned, implemented and executed in less than 10 days since its launch. The costs are jointly shared by Temasek, Temasek Foundation, ACT Grants, the Swasth Alliance and 1,000-plus donors and members of PPCR.

ACT Grants is a coalition of Indian start-up founders and VC firms that came together in March 2020. Swasth Alliance is an alliance of over 150 healthcare organisations in the country, including hospitals, rural health NGOs, insurers, health tech and med-tech. It is collating demand across the public and private sectors, equitably allocating across all states. Air India, Singapore Airlines, Olam International, Amazon India, Kerry Logistics have supported the logistics of airlifting essential equipment from Singapore to India in three phases.

Mission Vayu has so far deployed 7,800 oxygen concentrators, 875 ventilators and 50,000 oximeters nationwide with additional equipment en route. In Phase-1, as many as 550 BiPaP ventilators and 7,500 oxygen concentrators were airlifted from Singapore and donated to the worst-affected districts of Maharashtra, Delhi, and other affected areas. Phase 2 is ensuring medical supplies for patients in remote places, and so far 325 units of heavy duty BiPaP ventilators, 51,000 oximeters and 20 ventilators were distributed to hospitals, trusts and support groups in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka.

PPCR has now launched Phase 3 of Mission Vayu to donate 500 additional units of heavy duty BiPaP ventilators to hospitals, trusts, social organisations, support groups, and district administrations across India. “Given the ongoing case positivity and fatality ratios, we will be able to impact thousands of lives every week through this initiative. The response we have received has been extremely gratifying as we were able to raise funds and support from 1,000-plus industries, businesses, philanthropists, and individuals from across India,” Mehta said.

PPCR is also working to make Pune the country’s first Covid-19 death-free city by getting its eligible population vaccinated. The target set was to vaccinate one lakh people every day. Pune was the first city in India to reach almost 87,000 vaccinations in a day and has vaccinated nearly 70% of those eligible in the 45-plus age group. It is now planning to procure 50 lakh doses for vaccinating those in the 18 to 44 age group.

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