Special Initiatives & Emergency Response

COVID-19 relief support to MSF in India

Dr. Gautam Hari Govind, MSF Medical Activity Manager heading to see patients in MSF/MoH co-managed Dedicated COVID Care Centre in BKC, Mumbai.

As the COVID-19 pandemic causes unprecedented healthcare challenges in India, the IKEA Foundation is supporting Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) with a €3 million donation.

“Imagine a thousand-bed hospital. There are 28 wards, as well as the emergency, casualty and triage areas. It’s a makeshift hospital in a huge metal tent. During the morning, Mumbai becomes very humid. It’s excruciatingly hot. And working in a protective suit for six hours; it’s unimaginable.”

Dr Gautam Hari Govind works as a Medical Activity Manager in Mumbai, India, for our partner Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). He is working in a large field hospital operated in collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Like so many healthcare professionals, Gautam is working on the frontline of the response to India’s second wave of COVID-19.

IKEA Foundation support

We have donated €3 million in unrestricted funding to MSF to support the work of people like Gautam. Our donation will help MSF scale up and continue to provide primary healthcare and distribute medical relief items to people in India.

MSF has mobilised staff—including doctors, nurses, anaesthesia technicians and psychologists—and is recruiting and sending additional teams with COVID-19 experience to provide care for people who are affected, including those who require hospitalisation and oxygen therapy.

“This is the second week of our emergency project,” says Gautam. “Last week, we had about 200 to 250 new patients admitted every day and, while the situation in Mumbai remains very serious, as a team, we have had a better week. This week we’ve seen improving results from our patients, better than we expected.”

Recruiting and training staff

“Today, our greatest challenge is attrition of staff,” says Gautam. “People just cannot work in this environment for long periods of time. Right now, it’s three days and you’re burned out.

“Even if your shift is only six hours, those are COVID hours. It’s the conditions, the sheer number of patients and the lack of proper induction. There are 28 wards; each ward should have two nurses present per shift and there are four shifts. It’s hard to find that many nurses.

“We are focused on recruiting and training new staff. Many of the Ministry of Health (MOH) nurses we work with are fresh graduates who’ve been thrust into something that nobody really expected. Our MSF nurses are supporting MOH nurses with mentorship and coaching at the patient’s bedside.”

Stand with the people of India

Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO, says: “We stand with the people of India and have pledged immediate support so that they can emerge from this crisis. We all need to come together and do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and support ongoing life-saving medical activities in India.”