As COVID-19 continues to spread and overwhelm India’s ability to respond, Brunswick-based MAP International is sending a large shipment of personal protection equipment, or PPE, to assist health care workers.
The shipment consists of 40 pallets of masks and hospital barrier gowns to help prevent the spread of the disease, MAP President and CEO Steve Stirling said.
Stirling could not say with certainty how many of the gowns will be shipped but said “tens of thousands” will be flown by a partner relief agency for distribution on the ground.
The personal protection equipment will go to several hard hit states in western India such as Gujarat and Maharashtra, and to the northern state of Bihar, the organization said.
With a daily average of 400,000 new cases per day, the virus is outpacing the country’s ability to battle it.
It was estimated Wednesday that there were 28 cases per 100,000 citizens, a number far lower than the U.S. at its peak, but India’s population of 1.4 billion makes for a high number of infections.
“The people are so concentrated. That makes it more dangerous,’’ when combined with poor hygiene and health care, he said.
Also, the ceremonial religious practice of bathing in the Ganges River by the thousands also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases, Stirling said.
The bodies of coronavirus victims are themselves becoming a health hazard as crematoriums can’t keep up with deaths and funeral pyres are being established in city parks and vacant spaces. Hindu, the dominant religion in India, calls for family members to ritualistically burn bodies in pyres.
The sick are being turned away from overcrowded hospitals, there are too few ambulances to transport COVID-19 victims and supplies of oxygen and life-saving medicines have been exhausted in some of the hardest hit areas, MAP said in a statement.
“There’s no place to put people who need help,’’ Stirling said.
At the same time, MAP is continuing to provide medical supplies to St. Vincent where thousands who evacuated their homes after the April 9 eruption of the La Soufriere volcano are still living in emergency shelters.
MAP is continuing to send disaster health kits to the displaced. Each kit has enough antiseptic wipes, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other items to support one person living in an emergency shelter for a week. Immediately after the eruption, MAP sent 1,000 of the kits to St. Lucia through its partner agency Food for the Poor and will continue those efforts.
Johnson & Johnson companies and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, long-time corporate partners of MAP, donated 20 medical mission packs to help the disaster victims. Each pack includes a mix of consumer products and health supplies such as masks, oral rehydration solutions, analgesics and vitamins for children and adults, MAP said.
MAP is filling a 40-foot container with medications, medical supplies, water filters, liquid IV, safety helmets and vests, disinfectants, blankets and hygiene products that will be sent to St. Vincent with international partners.
Stirling said MAP is blessed with generous corporate donors and is looking to rent more warehouse space near Brunswick to store medicines before shipment. MAP needs money to pay for shipping goods to impoverished countries where medicines are in very short supply, he said. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people have no access to basic live-saving medicines. Those drugs include antibiotics and treatments for hypertension, asthma, diabetes and other common chronic diseases.
MAP still makes donations go a long way. A $10 donation will provide $1,050 worth of life-saving medicines and health supplies, Stirling said.
For more information on MAP’s work around the world or to donate consult the website map.org.