Singapore Red Cross raises over $3.2m for India's Covid-19 fight

It aims to secure much-needed medical supplies such as oxygen

Mr Benjamin William, chief executive of the Singapore Red Cross, noted that a surge in global demand has caused a shortage of medical supplies, and said the SRC is grateful for the outpouring of support from individuals and organisations over the pas
Mr Benjamin William, chief executive of the Singapore Red Cross, noted that a surge in global demand has caused a shortage of medical supplies, and said the SRC is grateful for the outpouring of support from individuals and organisations over the past two weeks. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

An outpouring of support in the past two weeks has seen the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) raise more than $3.2 million to help India's Covid-19 fight.

A public appeal on April 28 saw organisations and individuals contributing towards SRC's efforts to secure much-needed equipment including oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders and ventilators, as well as hygiene and medical kits.

Mr Benjamin William, chief executive and secretary-general of the SRC, said yesterday during a press conference: "Over the past two weeks, we have seen an outpouring of support from individuals and organisations, for which we are grateful.

"With the number of cases in India increasing day by day, the needs on the ground are growing in tandem, and so are the resources required to support affected and at-risk communities."

SRC had already sent 1,300 oxygen cylinders, three cryogenic tanks and five ventilators to India.

It is working with the Indian Red Cross Society to distribute them to health institutions in seven states most affected by the pandemic - Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

"Further shipments comprising over four million surgical masks, 1.5 million N95 masks, 2,000 oxygen concentrators, 1,200 oxygen cylinders, and 150 ventilators are expected to arrive over the coming weeks," added SRC in a statement.

Mr William said that a surge in global demand has caused a shortage of medical supplies.

Many airlines have also reduced flights to India.

Mr William said that while shipping capacity exists, it takes longer for supplies to reach India.

Custom regulations and last-mile distribution are other challenges.

He said: "Covid-19 is a curve ball and we cannot employ the same modus operandi. We need to trust partners on the ground to ensure the last-mile distribution reaches the most vulnerable."

Representatives from the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pan Indian Institutes of Management (Pan IIM) and Pan Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) were present at the event at the Red Cross House. Other mobilisation partners include The Indus Entrepreneurs and Little India Shopkeepers Association.

Pan IIM Alumni president Suresh Shankar said: "It is not just about the money but the number of lives we can save. Money is an enabler, but to save lives, it is critical to order quality equipment, ship it fast and ensure that the supply reaches the hospitals where it is needed."

Mr Ashish Verma, treasurer of IIT Alumni Association of Singapore, said: "A lot of people (in India) have lost their friends, colleagues and close family members. We are in a protected and safe country like Singapore, so there is a moral responsibility to help since we are in a position to do so."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2021, with the headline 'Singapore Red Cross raises over $3.2m for India's Covid-19 fight'. Subscribe