The worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic were the elderly globally. In India, 90% elderly are from the unorganized sector. Identified as the most vulnerable section of society, they were hit the hardest both in rural & urban India.
HelpAge India has been working on-ground both pre & post the lockdown, focussing on the poor, destitute and disadvantaged elders, who are struggling to simply survive. As per a survey done by HelpAge, 65% elders stated thatthe Covid-19 lockdown impacted their livelihood of which 60% were from rural India. 71% elders said that the livelihood of the breadwinner of their family was heavily impacted.
With no money to survive on, most poor eldersliving in urban slums & villages, barely had food to eat and therefore could not afford even basic medication, resulting in a worsening of their health condition, especially those suffering from chronic diseases. During disasters, mostly the younger able bodied manage toaccess relief packages, elders are silently left behind, as they are too fragile to run and access relief vehicles in time. Therefore, HelpAge ensures that during relief distributions, while the homeless, migrant workers and poor, receive the much needed relief, the focus remains on the elderly. When an elder receives ration or relief material, they automatically share it with the younger members of their family, children & grandchildren equally.
In the first phase of work before the lockdown started, HelpAge focused on generating awareness about the Safety measures against Covid-19, both in urban & rural areas, through its Mobile Healthcare Units & Helpline services(1800-180-1253).
HelpAge has a strong nation wide network of Mobile Healthcare Units (MHUs). These MHU teams are reaching out to needy elders in rural India & urban slums, deep in the interiors, ensuring that relief reaches the unreached elders & their communities.
The lockdown brought with many challenges, but HelpAge Corona Warriors are working relentlessly, with the sole aim to help those in need, from disadvantaged elders, to the homeless, migrant workers and poor living urban slums & villages, providing them with the following:
Free Meals for Survival – to the homeless in night shelters, on roads, elders in villages, in old age homes& urban slums and migrant labourers who had nowhere and no one to turn to.
Family Survival Kits – which include basic ration like Rice, Wheat, Spices, cooking oil etc. along with Corona protective gear like masks, bathing and washing soaps, for disadvantaged elders and their family of 5. This package has been made in consultation with the communities of elderly.
Elder-Self-Help-Groups – dipping into their own savings, provided much needed ration, masks and support to destitute elders and widows in their villages & community.
Protective Hygiene Kits – distributed to poor elders & their family, to fight Covid-19 which include Sanitizers, Mask, Tissues, Handwash etc.
Free Medicines and Healthcare check-ups – are bring provided by the MHU teams, whoare reaching out to elder beneficiaries suffering from chronic ailments anddelivering them their much needed medications, through home visits and within their community.In some areas the MHUs, are operating as an ambulance service and transporting elder patients to hospitals for their treatments and checkups.
Elder Helpline Service – the HelpAge Helpline teams across 24 states in India with the help of volunteers, are addressing elder emergency needs such as much needed groceries and medicines for survival, getting them delivered to their doorsteps across the country, besides providing much needed counselling.
Hospital Transportation: In some states, elders who need urgent medical attention or others who might be suspected Covid-19 patients, are being transported to the district hospitals in consultation with the local administration.