The COVID relief operations being launched by Al Hamd and Mesco jointly from August 3 is like a ray of hope for the people of Hyderabad, especially the poor, marginalised sections of society.
HYDERABAD – A joint team of Al Hamd and Mesco led by Dr. Md. Fakhruddin Sahab and Abdul Azeem has initiated COVID relief operations that will function round the clock in the twin cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad.
At present, they are functioning in a low-profile manner as they are awaiting ambulances and operational vehicles. But once they are fully equipped after a formal inauguration on 6 August, the operations will begin in full swing and people can access these services through the helpline number 8008834011.
With the situation getting grim with each passing day, people feel panicked and are confused with the state of affairs and the way COVID is being managed. With close to 500 deaths and confirmed cases of 52,000, hospitals overcrowded with no beds available, the people are at a loss not knowing what to do and whom to turn to.
In such a situation, the COVID relief operations launched by Al Hamd and Mesco jointly is like a ray of hope for the people of Hyderabad, especially the poor, marginalized sections of society. Many don’t even know if they are asymptotic or symptomatic and hence take it easy while some go about thinking they are invincible.
In such a scenario, Hyderabad is likely to explode, predict some health care professionals, more so after Bakrid.
The team of Al Hamd and Mesco will focus more on preventing the spread of the disease. Talking to Clarion India, Dr. Fakhruddin, who is leading the team and is also the general secretary of the Mesco Foundation, said, “We will create awareness and educate the people on how to prevent the spread of the disease. And then among the identified cases, we will educate the attendants how to take care of themselves as they are taking care of the patient during home quarantine.”
The medicinal sachets to be distributed in the containment zones will contain everything a COVID patient and his/her attendant needs. The sachet contains different packets for different uses such as a packet containing personal protection equipment such as soaps, gloves, masks, sanitisers. Another packet has immunity-boosting drugs such as tablets of vitamin C, Zinc, B complex, paracetamol, thermometer, pulse oxy-meter. The third packet will have virus-specific treatment medicines such as anti-biotic and other medicines as prescribed by the doctor.
Everything has been thought of. Even the attendant will be given a kit containing face shield, goggles, cap, shoe covers, masks. These will be available in the Mesco office and also delivered at doorstep as per the necessity.
Ambulance services are also available to shift the patient if s/he is critical to the hospital. “And, God forbid, if the patient dies, we have also kept arrangements in place to shift the body to the graveyard and also to look into other formalities like shroud, etc,” added Dr. Fakhruddin keeping in mind the difficulties people are facing after the death of a COVID-infected person.
The services have not yet begun in full swing but people from the containment zones in the old city of Hyderabad are being taken care of as they are reluctant to get tested due to various rumours. Besides, the cost of test is more than the treatment itself.
“The infection is spreading due to lack of knowledge, overconfidence among the people and carelessness. If one person in the family is infected, other family members are vulnerable. We plan to educate them about the initial symptoms which they should not ignore and start treatment soon even if they do not go for tests.”
“In 90% of the cases timely treatment has saved lives. Our main aim is to save patients from hospitalisation as much as possible. Many people are working to fight COVID and our work is also complementing these efforts. We have sought permission from the Drug Control Authority to supply oxygen as the Government of India has authorised the same,” said Dr Fakhruddin.
The volunteers in the call centre will receive the calls and counsel the people guiding them about the preventive methods and also train them to use the kits, especially using the thermometer and the pulse oxy-meter.
“Wrong readings of the oxy-meter have caused panic among the people. So, It is important to train the people on reading the thermometer, oxy-meter and ways to monitor the patient and sanitise as much as possible the articles used by the patient. We have also included tissues and wet wipes in the kit so they can dispose of them.” Dr Fakhruddin explained.
The medicinal sachets are given for a very nominal amount so that the people appreciate the same. Doorstep deliveries will be done to study the economic situation of the family. If the family is very poor, the team will also ensure they receive ration and other essentials. Thus, along with health care, even food supplies are provided.
For tests, the team has tied up with some diagnostic centres in the city which will charge the patients referred by the Al Hamd-Mesco team at a subsidised rate.
The team is also trying to rope in MLAs to use the MPLAD funds for this relief operation. Their work is already in the process of duplication in other states where the MLAs have come forward to provide financial assistance.
“A manual has been prepared which we have sent to other philanthropic institutions and doctors so they can also start relief operations at the earliest. We all need to work together irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” Dr Fakhruddin explained saying that the Mesco Foundation had been doing philanthropic activities for the past several decades now.
Together, they have a team of 300 doctors and trained paramedics as volunteers at the call centre to deliver the kits and to drive the vehicles.
The Al Hamd Charitable Trust which is sponsoring the entire operation cost is located in Secunderabad. The Trust chairperson and founder, Abdul Azeem Mohammed, who is also a life member of Mesco, said “We are filling in the gap of the lapses in the way COVID is being handled by both the government and the corporate hospitals. While the corporate hospitals are fleecing the patients, the government hospitals are not fully quipped.”
He said the relief operation process is “very scientific but schematic”. When a person calls on the helpline, it gets connected to the IT-based WhatsApp location logger and to the computer for the patient record maintenance. The coordinator who receives the call after taking the details connects to the doctor as per the need.
The required kit is then delivered to the home of the caller by the paramedics who will also check on the patient and see if there is a need for oxygen. The paramedics go along with oxygen concentrators if there is a need so that no time is wasted in making arrangements for an oxygen cylinder. Medicines for symptomatic or asymptomatic patients are prescribed by highly-qualified doctors.
“We have no non-medical staff because every single person associated in this relief operation is trained. So we have medical and paramedical staff”, Abdul Azeem told Clarion India.
“We ensure sanitisation at the office. The staff is also in uniform and equipped with all precautionary devices. We want the attendant of the COVID patient also to be healthy so we have designed a kit for them as well.
The most important feature of this relief operation is a mobile ICU which is owned by a handful of hospitals in the city. The mobile ICU has a ventilator, defibrillator, ECG, Oxygen concentrator, etc.
Another important feature that has been designed for the mobile ICU is the dead body carrier which is a freezer and will be inserted perpendicular to the driver’s cabin.
The Mesco Foundation runs 5 schools in Hyderabad where they teach Arabic and to read the Holy Quran, with Tajweed as part of the curriculum. Their books on Tajweed have been translated in several languages and are being used by countries across Europe. They have s Pharmacy College in Hyderabad. Apart from educational institutes, they also have healthcare services at nominal costs, and take up relief work during natural disasters.
Al Hamd is a charitable trust to help the poor, needy people through old-age homes, food distribution, healthcare, blood banks, scholarships for poor students, etc. The Al Hamd Foundation is an offshoot of the charitable trust and works in collaboration with Mesco for most of their projects regarding healthcare. While Mesco provides technical support, Al Hamd Foundation apart from funding, takes care of the entire operational aspects of the project. Al Hamd and Mesco have a long standing relationship for more than 30 years.