Our hearts go out this week to our friends, family, and colleagues in India as a devastating COVID surge continues to ravage the country with which Canadians share so many cultural, historic, and people-to-people ties. On Wednesday, 362,000 new cases were reported, the same day India crossed the grim milestone of more than 200,000 reported COVID-19 deaths – figures experts expect are severely under counted.
Now is not the time to point fingers at policy failings, assign blame for what shouldn’t have been done or what was. Where this pandemic is concerned, we are all looking out from glasshouses, and, frankly, none of us has got COVID right. No, this is the time for Canadians to rally in support of our Commonwealth cousins, to show our solidarity and to open our wallets against a humanitarian crisis that is ravaging the subcontinent.
As Canada’s former Higher Commissioner to India, the country is very close to my heart. And I know that it is too for Canada’s extensive Indian diaspora communities and Canadians generally who have friends and colleagues impacted by this growing tragedy.
Sadly, this week, health-care facilities across India are struggling to manage the increasing number of hospitalizations amid widespread shortages of oxygen, ventilators, and essential PPE. Patients are suffocating, crematoria have spilled out into the streets, and family members are looking on helplessly as their loved ones succumb.
The system, in short, is beginning to collapse, and India and Indians need our immediate help. On Tuesday, the Government of Canada announced C$10 million in funding for humanitarian assistance through the Red Cross, and some international aid is beginning to arrive in the form of oxygen shipments and medical equipment donations.
The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada strongly supports the Government of Canada’s relief efforts. We also support New Delhi’s proposal to waive intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines at the World Health Organization to level the playing field in the Global South as we deal with this unprecedented international health crisis.
On a final note, the Canadian Red Cross is currently offering support through the Indian Red Cross to deliver assistance to communities affected or at risk of being affected. The staff of the Foundation and our Board are gravely concerned about the crisis unfolding in India but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh. We encourage you to please support this effort by donating to the Canadian Red Cross India COVID-19 Response Appeal or any charitable organization of your choice assisting the world's second-most populous country as it endures its darkest hours of the pandemic. Only by working collaboratively with our friends and allies throughout the Asia Pacific and the rest of the world will we put COVID-19 behind us.
President and CEO