WASHINGTON: US multinational financial services company Mastercard on Tuesday announced a commitment of USD 10 million to address the "gut-wrenching" situation of surging COVID-19 crisis in India.
To be delivered through the Mastercard Impact Fund, the contribution will focus on three priority areas - access to hospital resources, access to additional oxygen supplies, and continued support to its employees across the country, an official announcement said.
"The situation in India is gut-wrenching; it's clear that no one has been left untouched and that no one can be a bystander," said Ajay Banga, executive chairman of Mastercard.
"We have long been advocates for the people of India, as employers and as enablers of the economy. Now it's time for us to put our shoulders to the wheel and do whatever we can to help all of India get through this intensified crisis," he said.
The largest contribution will be designated to support the expansion of 2,000 beds through the installation of portable hospitals that can address the immediate healthcare needs.
Working with the government and local partners on the ground, these hospitals can be constructed quickly and could help an estimated 2.5 million Indians gain access to healthcare, adding to the nation's healthcare infrastructure, Mastercard said in a statement.
"The US and India have a shared history of helping each other during times of crisis," said Richard Verma, general counsel at Mastercard and former US ambassador to India.
"We're hearing from our own teams the challenges that they and their families are facing. It's critical that we stand by our friends and help those who have been impacted. Our commitment today and into the future is strong and enduring," he said.
Among other things, Mastercard is also allocating funding for additional shipments of 1,000 oxygen generators, as part of a broader corporate effort.
It is donating to local charities and NGOs to allow for direct support of those affected by the virus, including the frontline medical workers across the country.
Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the government of India, in a statement said that the steep rise of COVID-19 cases poses an enormous challenge to clinical care facilities.
Revamping existing hospital infrastructure by increasing the number of beds to accommodate more patients requiring critical care and procuring more equipment to enhance oxygenation for patients is of utmost priority.
"Mastercard and the office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India have joined hands to provide 2,000 beds and purchase oxygen concentrators for hospitals in states that have been affected the most. There have been many such partnerships, many more such needed in the coming days. We hope to speedily facilitate them where there is most need," Raghavan said.
With 3,23,144 people testing positive for the coronavirus in a day, India's infection tally has climbed to 1,76,36,307, while the national recovery rate further dropped to 82.54 percent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.
The death toll mounted to 1,97,894 with 2,771 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.