India is overwhelmed by a deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a mutant strain of the coronavirus tears through the country, causing intense stress on the healthcare system, alternate means of support may be necessary in order for employers to provide the best possible care for their teams. Global Guardian CEO Dale Buckner highlights some of the challenges posed by the pandemic in India and offers advice on how to mitigate these extremely challenging circumstances.

 

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In India, the Western Insurance Model Has Failed in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here’s What We Can Do.

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The typical response when an employee falls sick in a foreign country is to get that person to a hospital and activate insurance. However, the COVID-19 pandemic that is tearing through India has shown that there may be better approaches to the problem.
 

India fared comparatively well in the early days of the pandemic. As the rest of the world struggled, India shipped vaccines abroad as Indian officials declared India the “pharmacy of the world.” Today, the story in India is starkly different. COVID-19 is out of control as a result of a new and more deadly variant of the coronavirus. While hundreds of thousands of cases are being reported across the country every day, the numbers of deaths and infections are believed to be significantly higher. The healthcare system is stressed at an unprecedented level—hospitals have virtually run out of beds and life-saving oxygen, vaccines are in short supply, and less than 2 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Many countries around the world have restricted travelers from India as a consequence of the raging health crisis.

Here is what we know and how we are responding.


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Many international companies have a large employee presence in India. When one of those employees falls sick, the most common guidance is to direct the person to the hospital and activate insurance coverage. However, in the current environment in India, you may be sending your employee to a hospital that is understaffed, struggling to cope, lacking critical medical supplies, and is full of patients sick with COVID-19. 

Consideration: Instead of sending a sick employee to a hospital—and after consulting with a local certified physician—it may be better that they self-isolate and are provided with food, oxygen, and medical care either at home or in an isolated environment, such as a hotel room.


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Hospitals are overrun and understaffed, medicines and oxygen are in short supply, and people are turning to social media to plead for help. While various countries are providing medical aid to India, this will not meet the needs of the current environment. Even with international donors, it will likely be "too little and too late" to materially improve the current situation.  
 
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Ultimately, if you are expecting a major health insurance company, legacy duty of care provider, or international donor to move the needle on India’s oxygen shortage in a timely manner, it will likely not happen. If you do not have in-country assets who understand the local environment to assist with rapid delivery, supplies from the outside will likely not reach those when they need it most. Global Guardian has that presence on the ground and the trusted assets to support your needs in India.

Consideration: The solution has to come from within India. Life-saving supplies and services from within India are the best mechanisms to support your workforce. 



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What saves lives is isolating the patient and providing oxygen, food, and supplies.

Insurance companies’ helplines are overwhelmed. The helplines of most legacy duty of care providers are operated by people who don’t know India, are not familiar with its incredibly complex medical and supply chain systems, and don’t speak any of its many languages. When you do eventually get through to someone on these helplines, they typically struggle to address your concerns. Their guidance: “You’re sick? Go to the hospital.”

Consideration: It is critical (and can be life-saving) to have the support of Indian doctors who speak the country’s many languages, know how to navigate its bureaucracy, can write prescriptions and provide medicines, and understand and are knowledgeable about the status of local hospitals and medical supply chains. Simply going to an overcrowded and overstressed hospital may not be the ideal solution.

Global Guardian’s response
Global Guardian is responding to these unprecedented times by:

  • Providing oxygen concentrators and delivering to clients where they reside. 
  • Providing secure transportation to people who are sick, injured, or need to be isolated.
  • Providing both medical and security evacuations out of the country.
  • Delivering groceries to homes and offices, and providing prescriptions and medicines. 
  • Providing rapid tests across India, in partnership with one of the largest COVID-19 testing labs in the world. While earlier test results would come back within 72 hours, now it can take up to three weeks. With the rapid tests, our teams provide the results within 15 minutes. Our partner has set up testing sites in every major city in India. Your employee can either go to one of these sites to be tested or our teams can deliver the test to the office and test at scale.
  • Establishing a medical hotline with Indian physicians based in India to serve clients and provide current information and advice.
An on-the-ground presence, of the kind Global Guardian maintains in India, is critical to obtaining the optimum chance for success in an extremely tenuous and deteriorating situation in India. 

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