New Delhi [India], May 14 (ANI): Sweden's Ambassador to India Klas Molin has said that his country is working closely with partners in India to get an understanding of what is required on-ground to deal with surge in COVID-19 cases and it is heartening to see so many - from Government and large companies to individuals, including the Indian diaspora community in Sweden - stepping up to the challenge.
"The second wave of COVID has hit hard and close to home, sparing no one. It is a humanitarian crisis and requires to be treated that way. We are working closely with partners in India to get an understanding of what is required on-ground. It is heartening to see so many stepping up to the challenge - from Government and large companies to individuals, including the Indian diaspora community in Sweden. Each contributing to make a difference," he said.
A release said that Team Sweden - which comprises Swedish government, Swedish industry, businesses, and agencies -has joined forces to help India fight the current COVID-19 surge.
There are approximately 220 Swedish companies present in India which employ close to 200,000 directly and another 2,200,000 indirectly. Like the rest of the country, almost every company has lost employees, or their family members, to COVID, the release said.
It said that the Swedish Chamber of Commerce India (SCCI) has launched an initiative under Kraftsamla (which in Swedish means to join forces), to coordinate all efforts being made locally that can broadly be classified under saving lives, livelihood, prevention and building for the future.
Swedish companies are involved in strengthening and assisting local healthcare systems via support to local hospitals with medical equipment like ventilators, oxygen concentrators, setting up of COVID-care facilities, infrastructure and technical know-how, the release said.
"The second wave of COVID-19 in India has been highly virulent and fast spreading and this can truly overwhelm the best of administrations or healthcare systems anywhere. It is indeed gratifying to see the willingness and coordinated response of the Swedish companies in supporting lives and livelihoods with an outreach to employees, families, and communities. The Swedish companies are engaged in creating COVID Care Centres, bringing oxygen concentrators, vaccination campaigns and will continue to do more together with the local administration," said Kamal Bali, Managing Director of Volvo India and Chairperson of SCCI.
The Swedish Chamber is also working with issues around livelihood for migrant workers, women and children, as well as mental health and trauma counselling.
The release said that while the chamber manages efforts in India, the Sweden India Business Council (SIBC) in Stockholm is coordinating with headquarters of Swedish businesses.
According to Robin Sukhia of SIBC, industry from Sweden will fund medical supplies, distribution, medical care and support to urban and rural India. This will be done through established Indian NGOs such as Pratham, Indian Red Cross Society and Doctors without Borders, among others, via their Swedish or international organisations.
"The rapid and substantial response from Swedish industry to the sad situation in India affecting our friends, families and colleagues was notable and encouraging. The companies and their head offices have mounted a great response to support the medical situation," said Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman of SEB.
Sweden has also donated 200 oxygen concentrators to India. It supports the Indian Red Cross through IFCR (International Federation of Red Cross). Sweden is the fourth largest contributor to the international vaccine initiative COVAX and has announced an additional support of 1 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX. (ANI)