Citizen support groups and others join hands to help tackle COVID-19

Several non-governmental organisations, industry associations and citizen support groups are working to help people affected by COVID-19 and the curfew in Belagavi.

Some of them are well organised. Concerned citizens from various backgrounds have come together to provide assistance in different ways. They have joined online groups using social media handles.

A WhatsApp group, COVID 19 Response Bgm — has been created to establish a gang plank communication system among officers and policy-makers. This group has senior officers including the Deputy Commissioner, the Superintendent of Police and officers from the Health and other departments.

Government circulars and region-specific orders are circulated there, seeking immediate action and coordination between officers.

The COVID-19 Citizen Response Bgm group has philanthropists, NGO members, volunteers and experts. Vivek Coelho, a disaster management expert, coordinates activities in these groups.

The supply of drugs and medicine is being regulated through this group. “As of now, we are answering queries about drug shortage. Whenever we get requests for drug delivery, we ask the nearest pharmacist or officer to ensure door delivery of tablets or injections,” said Assistant Drug Controller Raghuram Nidavanda, a member of this group.

Kiran Nippanikar, a hotelier and NGO member, said that they were building a network of hotels and catering services to answer calls for food supply. Belagavi has a lot of college-going students who are away from home. “We are planning to supply them cooked food either free or on no profit no loss basis,” he said.

IT professional Hitesh Dharmadasani, data service provider Ajit Patil and media professional Uday Kinjwadkar have set up https://covid.allaboutbelgaum.com, a portal to share real time data on availability of beds and oxygen in hospitals. “We are seeking voluntary submission of data from hospitals. The Health Department has promised to share daily data with us. We hope to have volunteers who will call hospitals to get this data on an hourly basis,” Mr. Kinjwadkar said. The portal now has details of around 25 hospitals that provide COVID care in the city.

Another initiative is the Covid Support Belgaum Group that had worked during the first wave of the epidemic too. It has some NRI doctors, NGO members and working professionals in Belagavi city.

It offers online health advice from doctors for minor and mild COVID-19 symptoms, oxygen and medicine supply, diagnostics, plasma therapy, ambulance and cremation and burial services. “We have set up a round-the-clock helpline [18001022716] and centralised the availability of all our services,” said Mudassar Ternikar, a member of the group.

Doctors Kumail Sayyed, Nabeel Ghadi, Nadeem Attar, Samir Naik, Maqsood Punekar, Saif Memon and NGO members Faheem Madiwale and Mudassar Ternikar are part of this group. This group works with NGOs Al Iqra, Khadeemin and Anjuman-e-Islam, all based in Belagavi.

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