What Is EHA Doing to Combat COVID-19?

This month’s newsletter is devoted to a summary of all EHA has done and is doing to combat the pandemic, especially during India’s severe second wave. Download or print this information as a pdf here.

In the first ten days of May, India’s new COVID-19 cases rose to 400,000 per day (up from 12,000 in early March) and are still holding at 300,000. They have crossed the 26 million mark of COVID-19 cases, second only to the US (33M). Over 291,000 Indians have died. This second wave seems to involve a more virulent strain than the first, and the statistics are probably higher in reality. The patients are younger and more seriously ill than in the first wave. The crematoriums and burial sites are having difficulty keeping up as daily deaths have topped 4,000.

Thirteen of EHA’s hospitals have been requested to set aside 50 to 100% of their beds for COVID-19 patients, and some are up and running. This often requires setting up separate wards and bringing an oxygen supply to each bed. Many EHA facilities have to send drivers several hours away each day to get refilled oxygen cylinders. Thankfully, the oxygen supplies have held out for EHA’s facilities.


There is a huge need for oxygen concentrators, devices that concentrate the oxygen from ambient air by removing nitrogen (cost: $800). Even better would be to install oxygen plants at each EHA hospital; three have them already (cost: $80,000). These are a long-term solution and would provide all the oxygen needed for the entire hospital. Ventilators are also needed, and many EHA sites do not have them (cost: $70,000).


The infrastructure of many of EHA’s hospitals is inadequate and aged. Many of EHA’s buildings are 50 to 75 years old. In order to set up COVID-19 wards and ICUs, construction will need to be done, if not for new buildings, then in improving existing ones. Only four of EHA’s hospitals have adequate facilities and infrastructure to set up what is needed for treating COVID-19 patients.


A number of EHA staff and their family members are down with COVID-19 at this time. Others have parents who are ill, and they must travel to care for them. The staff are working 24/7 and are exhausted and stretched thin. Nursing schools are closed down and community projects are suspended, so these staff members are helping in the hospitals as well. Even the older staff children are helping out by preparing and serving meals. They all need your prayers.

During the first wave, EHA distributed cooked meals, dry goods packages, masks, and hygiene kits to thousands of families in need. Depending on how this second wave plays out, the hospitals will likely need to provide these necessities to families again. In Delhi, the Shalom Project has already begun putting together food hampers to help those involved in their programs. Many have lost their income source in the lockdown and have nothing to eat.


Before this second wave hit, many EHA hospitals were serving as vaccination centers. This work needs to continue but is difficult in the current conditions. To date, 6.6 million Indians between the ages of 18 and 44 have been vaccinated. Given that India’s population is 1.36 billion, they still have a long way to go. The current goal for 2021 is to get 40% of the population fully vaccinated.


All the while, many of EHA’s hospitals are struggling financially due to low non-COVID patient numbers and due to the extra costs of setting up special wards and caring for COVID-19 patients. Any gift you can send will help them stay in operation, taking care of those who most need help.