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Amazon India’s COVID Response Supports 500+ Hospitals; Recognized with CSR Impact Award

At the beginning of 2021, it appeared that the worst of COVID-19 was over with a significant drop in active cases and life on the streets returning to normalcy. Barely a month later, the second wave hit India with deadly intensity and virality. 

The impact was so severe that critical healthcare infrastructure had to be rationed, and hundreds of lives were lost every day owing to this scarcity. The need for oxygen support was acute, as were the hospital beds. The situation on the ground was alarming and it called for a swift response. 

This is when Amazon got into action and launched a cross-continent COVID-19 response – called Mission Vayu to bring in medical supplies urgently to reach Indian communities and public hospitals.

Creating impact 

Partners across various industries, funders, and NGOs came together to respond quickly to the shortage of oxygen and help communities and hospitals address the unprecedented crisis and save human lives. 

Amazon invested over INR 100 Cr in COVID relief efforts, which helped 532 Hospitals across 187 Districts in 25 states access critical healthcare devices. 8,382 units of vital medical devices were delivered to these institutions in record time making this one of the largest oxygen support initiatives in India and also one of the most generous philanthropic contributions in the country. 

For their efforts and on-ground impact through Mission Vayu, Amazon India won an award at the 8th CSR Impact Awards, India CSR Summit under the COVID-19 Response (Large) category. This is Asia’s largest CSR Forum hosted by CSRBOX and Dalmia Bharat Foundation. 

“We contributed swiftly towards relief efforts, through the network of hospitals, healthcare facilities, NGOs and community partners. Based on our early sense-check with on-ground partners we identified that oxygen concentrators (OCs) were the need of the hour and tapped into our logistics expertise and network to deliver these critical devices in quick time.” Said Anita Kumar, Head - Amazon in the Community, CSR India & APAC

Phase 1 of relief work

Through ACT Grants - a collaborative effort of multiple philanthropists, the team learned that approximately 8,000 oxygen concentrators (OCs) and 500 BiPap machines were being offered by Temasek Foundation, a Singapore-based non-profit. Amazon volunteered to support the logistics needed to move this consignment quickly into India and swiftly deployed a 100+ member logistics team to oversee on-ground logistics operations. Additionally, Amazon committed to procuring as many OCs as they could directly to support communities. 

Over the next two months, Amazon flew in over 8,000 oxygen concentrators, BiPAP machines, ventilators, and other critical life-saving equipment from Singapore, China, North America, and Europe through their global logistics team to India and set up mechanisms to repurpose their internal logistics capabilities and expertise, to have these units swiftly delivered to hospitals, COVID Care centers, NGOs, and others at the last mile.

Not forgetting marginalized groups who quietly worked behind the scenes during the crisis, Amazon also supplied more than 1,500 meals daily to marginalized groups. In Bangalore, India’s second-worst-hit city, Amazon partnered with AkshayPatra and BBMP, the Bangalore municipal body, to provide overworked crematorium workers and hearse van drivers at 14 crematoriums with necessary nourishment – about 1,500 hot and freshly cooked meals a day for a month.

Teams had to navigate the personal impact of covid and still deliver at scale with reduced bandwidth. Amazon employees across multiple teams went beyond the call of duty to support at all hours of the day, be it logistics or fundraising campaigns or handling finance and legal and customs paperwork. 

Phase 2 of the relief work

When the second wave plateaued and there was a semblance of normalcy, Amazon turned its focus towards supporting the vaccination efforts and building the healthcare infrastructure to be prepared for any future crisis. With the help of GIVE India and Doctors For You, Amazon worked to build capacity and strengthen existing infrastructure, as well as support 5 community vaccination centers across Bangalore. 

“We partnered with 30 primary health centers to help with training for frontline workers so that together, we can go on to do more, and better. Amazon also set up Vaccine Clinics to make vaccines available for all its employees, families, and contract workers,” says Anita Kumar, Head - Amazon in the Community, CSR India & APAC spokesperson from the company. 

To strengthen the healthcare infrastructure for the long term, Amazon sponsored the construction of an Oxygen Plant attached to the Community Healthcare Center (CHC) in Maheshwaram, Rangareddy district, Telangana, and another Oxygen Plant in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra. The plant in Telangana will cater to around 200 patients who visit this government hospital facility every day. 

The COVID-19 response helped Amazon understand the importance of having an ear to the ground and being proactive. It has given them insight into how to leverage and repurpose corporate assets for the greater good. 

Author

Roshini Muthukumar

Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.