Supporting the COVID-19 relief effort in India

Over the last year, our students and staff have played a vital role in the COVID-19 response, through research, volunteering and community support.
Zakaria Abbas working in the hospital

Meet Zakaria, one of our MSc Public Health students based in India. During the pandemic, Zakaria helped distribute essential food packages across Bangalore and launched the 'COVID Community Task Force', a 24/7 helpline created to alleviate pressures on the local health services. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic came as a crushing blow to millions in India and around the world due to sudden loss of jobs. Most of these families lost their livelihood and depended on us to assist them during these unprecedented times. 

Amidst this human crisis which has affected all of us irrespective of caste, race, religion or colour, we needed to adopt a can-do mindset, mounting a positive response in the face of this crisis by leading with humanity, empathy and solidarity. And to reiterate this, and to live by the principle of “In unity, there is strength”, my team in Bangalore distributed food packages to over 1,500 families consisting of essential items like rice, wheat, pulses, sugar, salt, cooking oil, soaps, and detergents, as a part of a global campaign by international charity organisation, ‘Who is Hussain’. We visited a temple, church, slum, and crowded areas and educated the residents about the importance of maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and using hand sanitiser. Our team also cooked and distributed nearly 4,000 food packets to the needy including migrant labourers and those homeless. 

The pandemic has had a major impact on the capacity of health systems to continue the delivery of essential health services in India. It hit us like a bolt from the blue leaving us unprepared. As a medical doctor and a critical care medicine resident, I realised the need of taking the mantle upon myself and decided to contribute in someway. As a part of my organisation, “The Laureate trust”, our team launched ‘COVID community task force (CCTF)’, a 24/7 helpline to assist our neighbourhood and surrounding areas with round the clock COVID-19 assistance like mental health, supply of free medicines, oxygen cylinders, tele medicine consultation, monitoring COVID-19 patients daily, arranging ambulance & facilitating hospital admissions in an emergency situation, providing rehabilitation services, medical insurance and financial support. 

The biggest challenge was to balance my work at ICU and coordinate with my team on the ground. But when your passionate about helping those most in need without expecting anything in return, everything is possible. Maintaining the right balance and an incredible team effort is the key to achieve maximum results!"

Zakaria volunteering at the foodbank in Bangalore
Volunteers working at the Who is Hussain charity