With the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic gripping rural India in an unprecedented crisis, Syngenta India has stepped into support farmers cope with healthcare challenges. The company is rolling out a series of CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives across the country towards strengthening healthcare infrastructure.
Rafael Del Rio, Managing Director, Syngenta India said, “We are in close contact with hospitals. Our approach is to offer support that is sustainable. So, besides providing basic protective equipment like masks, gloves, PPE kits and sanitisers, we are also donating medical equipment and devices including oxygen concentrators, beds and testing kits. While it is very difficult to procure oxygen cylinders, it is still possible to provide beds. So, we decided to invest in plenty of hospital beds to help ease the strain on some hospital resources.”
Rafael also highlighted how the company was ensuring that while helping farmers, the company was taking every possible measure to assist employees and their families as well. “In this challenging time, we want to offer as much practical help to our colleagues as possible. We have also established insurance for the non-full-time employees who work with us besides strengthening medical advice facilities.”
Access to credible information is critical during these turbulent times for farmers and rural communities. Syngenta is once again setting up a special Kisan Call Centre to assist farmers with credible information and Covid support including addressing mental health issues for them and their family members. The call centre shall provide information in nine Indian regional languages. “This call centre is expected to benefit farmers, their immediate families and farm workers from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh and was very helpful during the first phase of the pandemic last year,” informed Rafael.
Elaborating on another major initiative, Dr. KC Ravi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Syngenta India said, “Looking at the urgency of early detection and cure we are providing a CT scanning machine to the civil hospital in Ambah sub-division located in Morena district, Madhya Pradesh. Since the equipment is in short supply in the country with long lead time to procure, we are airlifting the machine from Japan for this 58-bed hospital, which sees about 800 outpatients every day from nearby villages. There is an acute need for this facility in one of the worst affected areas in the country as patients are traveling to faraway places including neighbouring states for scanning, increasing not only their exposure risks but also delaying treatment. This intervention is extremely significant in not only tiding over the current crisis but also in building an enduring asset for scaling up diagnostic services in this remote area”
With an acute shortage of medical beds in the country, the company is also assisting in organising around 2000 of them in rural hospitals and community health centres across the country on an immediate basis.
Company officials continue to distribute large quantities of sanitisers, personal protection equipment (PPE) and masks among the frontline workers. Rural and makeshift hospitals have also been given thousands of rapid test kits to expedite testing. Many other useful medical equipment is being arranged for Goa Medical College and for hospitals in Pune. Additionally, the company’s production sites in Gujarat are also providing oxygen to nearby rural hospitals.
“Covid infections are reaching record levels, and the healthcare system is stretched to a breaking point. We are extending a financial aid of Rs 25 lakh to the Government of Andhra Pradesh for medical equipment and Covid management for rural communities, in addition to the materials’ support,” added Dr. Ravi.
Syngenta had launched a series of pan-India Covid support programmes in response to the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic. The programmes had benefited over 1.5 million farmers. One of the unique features of the first wave intervention was providing market linkage for farmers amid the lockdown, which helped farmers sell 2,442 metric tonnes of their agriculture produce and they earned them Rs 4.87 cr.
Syngenta along with NGO partner Akshaya Patra Foundation and other NGOs, supported over 300,000 farmers, farm workers and labourers with a large-scale food distribution campaign in over 100 APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis across the country during the first phase of the pandemic.
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