On Thursday, a cargo aircraft carrying more than 13 tons of medical supplies left Zurich for New Delhi. The consignment comprises 600 oxygen concentrators, purchased by Swiss Humanitarian Aid from private sector suppliers, and 50 respirators donated by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS).
The respirators were purchased by the Armed Forces Pharmacy in accordance with Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) requirements to support the Swiss healthcare system. Prior enquiries were made to ensure that these respirators are not needed in Switzerland. The supplies sent to India also include body bags.
The medical supplies provided by Switzerland will be received by the Indian Red Cross and distributed to hospitals by the Indian Ministry of Health, which is responsible for coordinating international medical aid.
Intense cooperation between the FDFA and the DDPS
The total value of the medical supplies sent by Switzerland is around CHF 3 million. A significant proportion of this amount was covered by the DDPS, which donated the respirators for patients in intensive care. Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), mobilised additional funds to purchase the remaining supplies, in particular the oxygen concentrators, and to cover transport costs.
This Swiss Humanitarian Aid operation required close cooperation between the FDFA's head office and the DDPS in Bern, the Swiss embassy in India and the Indian authorities in order to determine the needs on the ground and procure the necessary medical supplies.
An alarming situation
The health situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been deteriorating in India for several weeks. More than 20 million people are estimated to be infected with COVID-19 in India, with over 300,000 new cases occurring each day. Switzerland responded swiftly with an offer of support to the Indian government. The Indian government formally accepted the Swiss offer last week.
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