May 11, 2021
In the past year, we have worked alongside our dedicated physician colleagues and team members who have tirelessly treated COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic. As the US welcomes a small reprieve from the battle against COVID-19 in part due to our vaccination efforts, we watch in horror as our colleagues, families and friends in India struggle with an unimaginable situation. Yesterday, the country saw 366,161 new COVID-19 cases and 3,754 COVID-19 related deaths, both remaining close to their single-day records. We are horrified by the images of what physicians and patients in India are facing and the very real dilemmas they are confronted with when all available resources are outstripped.
As one of our spouses (Dr. Jain) is an Infectious Disease specialist and one of us is a hospitalist (Dr. Arora), we are both intimately familiar with the sacrifices so many physicians in the US have made and continue to make to give their patients with COVID-19 the best care in the context of a rapidly evolving knowledge base, exacerbated by the varying degrees of limited resources for both patients and physicians. And throughout the pandemic, we have seen tragedies in both parts of the US and Europe as health systems were overwhelmed by the exponential rise in COVID-19.
The tragedy we see now in India is of a different scale: it is multiplied many fold and affects the entire world. India is a country that is instrumental to producing vaccines—including the COVID-19 vaccine—and is also a major source of health care professionals—including internal medicine physicians—across the globe. It is also the country where one of us (Dr. Jain) was born and where the bulk of our extended family members still live. Personally, it is gut wrenching to listen to the stories told by our colleagues and families in India.
These physicians on the frontlines are managing situations that no physician should have to face. In addition, we are sensitive to the fact that many of our colleagues critical to our own pandemic response in the US not only attended medical school with these same heroic doctors in India, but are also under extreme strain now worried sick about their own family members and friends at home. One of our own (Dr. Arora) medical school colleagues and ABIM Board Certified physician Dr. Surajit Nundy is currently volunteering in India and describes the situation like “a war zone,” where “oxygen is on everyone’s lips,” and the personal risk and mental health toll for health care workers.
Our hearts also go out to the family members and loved ones of one of our courageous ABIM Board Certified colleagues, Dr. Rajendra Kapila, who lost his life while battling COVID-19 a week after returning to India to care for his family. Dr. Kapila was a professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, a founding member of the New Jersey Infectious Disease Society, and a mentor to many medical students at Rutgers.
We are thankful that both ABIM and the ABIM Foundation stand in solidarity with the US physician community and our Indian colleagues during this crisis. One way ABIM and the ABIM Foundation are doing this is through a donation to GiveIndia, a nonprofit organization in India that is working to help provide much-needed resources for COVID patients. ABIM and the ABIM Foundation’s donation will fund life-saving oxygen infrastructure, such as oxygen cylinders and concentrators, which are vital at this critical time. We have seen our colleagues break down, describing how the lack of oxygen led to the death of 12 people in a single day in one hospital and another saying they are turning patients away because they don’t have oxygen.
We hope you will join ABIM and the ABIM Foundation as we support our colleagues now fighting the worst pandemic the world has seen in a century.
For those who are looking for ways to offer help and support, ABIM and the ABIM Foundation has compiled a list of several reliable organizations working on COVID-19 relief in India.
Organizations based in India
US & International Based Organizations working in India
- Doctors Without Borders
- The International Medical Corps (IMC)
- UNICEF USA
- Project HOPE