About three weeks back, Anish Sinha and his wife, Anchal Goel, were inundated with texts on the oxygen shortage in India. The Australia-based couple have a large number of family and friends in India, many of who were severely impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cases in India were peaking at 300,000+ per day and as Indians overseas with family and friends back home, we were simultaneously living in two worlds. Amid the helplessness, we wanted to do whatever we could in our capacity to assist.
“From conversations with our friends, we realised most of them felt likewise. We decided to try and raise funds, source medical-grade oxygen equipment, and deliver to India. We named this initiative Medical Oxygen for All (MOfA),” Anish says.
The couple began with a group of five friends in Australia and India. More friends joined as they progressed, and MOfA has now grown to an initiative of 25 volunteers from across the world.
“MOfA was started with a mission to source and deliver life-saving medical oxygen equipment to people in need in districts/ cities beyond the spotlight of the mainstream media,” Anish says.
The team started crowd fundraising through campaigns on GoFundMe in Australia and Milaap in India. At the same time, they started reaching out to manufacturers across the globe (Australia, US, China) to secure supplies of medical-grade oxygen equipment, focusing on oxygen concentrators and BiPaP non-invasive ventilators.
“On the demand side, we identified trusted contacts (our friends and alumni) in district administration with a focus on Tier 2 and 3 districts, and assessed the demand and criticality,” Anish says.
MOfA identified someone with over 10 years of experience in logistics in India to help plan last-mile delivery to these districts.
“We also developed a post-delivery monitoring and impact assessment process to assess the impact of these units on the ground. This team has been doing an incredible job, sharing video tutorials on how to use/install equipment, maintenance, and collecting feedback on utilisation of equipment,” Anchal says.
Oxygen for all
Anish is the co-founder of upcover, an insurance tech startup in Sydney. Before starting up, he spent three years building a Sequoia-backed startup in India and put in a couple of years at Goldman Sachs before that.
Anchal is currently GM of Pay Product at SiteMinder, an Australian unicorn and a global tech company based in Sydney. She earlier worked as a consultant at McKinsey in Australia, and has started two companies in India, one a non-profit healthcare organisation.
MOfA has raised Australian $1.15 million (Rs 6.5 crore) in 20 days from 1,800+ individual donors, tech companies in Australia such as Canva, and charitable foundations.
“We have delivered 372 units of oxygen concentrators and BiPaPs (non-invasive ventilators) in 20 districts across India. Close to 290 units have landed in India and another in transit. These will be delivered to 20-30 additional districts in the next few days,” Anish says.
He adds that they plan to continue working with the local district administration and the medical establishment in identified districts, understand their critical needs, and provide support in the short term to help fight COVID-19, and in the long term to help enhance local public healthcare infrastructure.
“We are also planning on incorporating MOfA into a more permanent institution to help formalise the help and aid we can offer to these districts,” Anish says.