Building capacity beyond concentrators

Swasth Alliance
3 min readMay 25, 2021

In the last year, and especially in the last few months, our already stretched health system has been put under further duress. If you’ve been following our posts so far (see here and here), you know that we’re working to deploy oxygen concentrators (OCs) across India. At latest count we, along with our partners, had delivered over 16,000 OCs to entities in over 230 districts.

But we know it’s not just equipment that will help us tide over this pandemic. Along with the right supplies, our people need the right information. Whether it’s trusted guidance for patients on Covid-19 home management, advice for caregivers on how to access limited supplies, guidelines for healthcare agencies looking to set up Covid-19 programs, or evidence-based information for community health workers — Swasth is working on a number of efforts to ensure that a lack of trustworthy information doesn’t mean a lack of care, or an addition to the health system’s burden.

Science Alliance

Recently, there has been a lot of misinformation about Covid-19 management. It’s spread just as fast as the virus. Without the right or even sufficient evidence, precious resources have been wasted, there have been medical complications, and patients’ suffering has increased.

That’s where the Swasth Community Science Alliance comes in. This team of clinicians and leading scientists from universities and community-based health organisations in India and the world over is bringing together the latest evidence on Covid-19 management. The mission is to make it accessible and relevant to communities and health workers across the country, especially rural India.

The Community Science Alliance has created an open-source content repository for everyone from nurses and doctors in remote health centres to medical administrators across the country. We also hope to translate this content to ready-to-deploy kits that administrators, community health workers and clinical personnel can put to use day-to-day with the right training. These kits will include guidelines for clinical care, ready-to-use data management tools, and guidance on the design, implementation and evaluation of Covid-19 programs. We hope to be able to share much more in the coming weeks on the impact this makes on the ground.

Tech-enabled matchmaking

If you’ve felt recently like your social media feed is overflowing with information on Covid-19, you’re not alone. But amidst all the noise, it’s hard to figure out which sources of information are trustworthy.

Enter the WhatsApp-based Swasth Selfcare/Homecare Bot — Sakhi. The Sakhi bot helps patients, potential patients, and caregivers chart out the right course of action and guides them through homecare management. It also helps with self-monitoring, reminding patients/caregivers to check and record vitals, and creating a downloadable record. In the next version of this bot, it will also link to our repository liferesources.in and our crisis line for specific queries. The bot goes beyond the English-speaking world, and is available in five additional languages — Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi. Having this go-to source is not only a relief to worried patients and caregivers, but also to the health system, freeing up doctors and hospitals’ precious resources.

In addition to managing symptoms and treatment, many patients and caregivers have to deal with the ordeal of trying to find medical oxygen. The Swasth Covid-19 Rescue Bot matches oxygen demand and supply in real-time for cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, which means no more endless calls, forwarded messages and inevitable disappointment for patients and caregivers, as well as easing the burden on suppliers who are inundated with phone calls.

Both bots are in beta version, but stay tuned for updates as we continue to roll them out for different use cases for other health needs in the future.

As the pandemic continues to ravage our country, we will keep working towards providing the infrastructure and information hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 patients and their caregivers need. And no one organisation can do this alone. It’s more important than ever to bring people together, from health experts in rural Chhattisgarh to Boston, logistics partners, medical equipment suppliers, tech developers and, of course, our countless donors… all committed to fighting this pandemic and building a better health system for everyone.

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Swasth Alliance

Swasth is an alliance of over 150+ healthcare organisations in India, including hospitals, rural health NGOs, insurers, health tech, med-tech and others.