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Statement by Dr. Rajiv. J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, on India and Covid-19

Even one year into the worst pandemic in a century, the reports of Covid-19’s devastation in India are staggering: the country now accounts for 1 in every 9 active cases in the world and nearly 6 percent of all deaths.  For The Rockefeller Foundation, which has had a more than 100-year relationship with the people of India, this data is personal.  The tragedy is affecting our colleagues, our partners and their families.

India and its health system are now at a critical moment.  Although vaccinations are underway, inoculations will not be delivered fast enough to stop this pandemic, or this latest wave, any time soon.  Even as demand increases, the Indian health system is experiencing an acute shortage of oxygen, inadequate infrastructure and human capacity, and insufficient coordination of the public health response.

As it has for more than a century, The Rockefeller Foundation stands with India.  Our first office, which was dedicated to controlling a hookworm epidemic, opened in Delhi in 1920.  In the decades since, The Rockefeller Foundation has supported Indian health programs, vaccination drives, and health institutions. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, we have provided more than $10 million to institutions and programs in India including through the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, the Indian Institute of Technology, the Piramal Swasthya Management and Research Institute, and UNICEF to scale testing and tracing initiatives as well as support the provision of essential health services in coordination with NITI Aayog and other partners.

Over the last week, The Rockefeller Foundation also approved an additional $3.5 million in emergency aid to organizations responding to the current Covid-19 wave.  Much of this funding will go to trusted partners in the country with the capacity and relationships to improve health infrastructure, expand testing and tracing, and provide emergency medical relief.  The rest of the resources will go to partners filling specific needs, including improving public education and communications.

Of course, even as The Rockefeller Foundation works with those in India to respond to this most recent crisis, our other programmatic work will carry on.  We will continue to strengthen broader health and data systems, leverage technological advances to empower Indian communities, and improve food security in the country.  As we do so, The Rockefeller Foundation will remain committed to ensuring every child, family and community in India, and around the world, can flourish and rise.

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