Diageo pledges £4.37m to support India’s public health infrastructure

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Volunteers treat patients suffering from Covid-19 with free oxygen at a makeshift clinic in a parking lot outside the Gurdwara Damdama Sahib on May 03, 2021 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rebecca Conway/Getty Images)

Diageo on Monday (24 May) said it has pledged Rs 450 million (£4.37m) to support India’s public health infrastructure for Covid-19 during the second wave of the pandemic, talking its total contribution towards Covid relief to Rs. 1.3 billion (£12.62m).

Under the initiative, the company will help nodal government hospitals in 21 districts to set up Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants to create long-term oxygen capacity, Diageo said in a statement.

Moreover, Diageo will also provide state governments with fully equipped, prefabricated 16-bed mini-hospital units with PSA oxygen plants in 15 most critical districts, it added.

The company said the measures will help increase hospital bed capacity with the flexibility to upgrade to ICUs or critical care as well as relocate to districts of greatest need. In addition, the company will also donate medical equipment including oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, ventilator beds and other critical devices to public hospitals across 10 States.

“At a time when the country is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, we want to support the government’s efforts and stand by the citizens of India,” Anand Kripalu, chief executive of Diageo India, said.

Stating that long-term medical infrastructure especially hospital beds and self-sufficiency in oxygen is what is needed most, he said, “We hope our contribution going into every state and union territory will help play a part in India’s recovery.”

Of the latest pledged sum, Rs 350 million (£3.4m) will be funded by Diageo Plc directly, the statement said.

Diageo said it has adopted the ‘One District One State’ approach given the scale of devastation of the second wave of the pandemic in India with the aim to ensure that support reaches at least one district in each state and union territory of the country.

“Diageo’s initiative will be supported by the national investment promotion agency, Invest India and executed by GiveIndia by prioritising the requirements of the state authorities, identifying critical districts, and ensuring smooth transition to state medical officials,” the company added.

As part of its steps to combat COVID-19, the company said from March last year 2020 it has produced 300,000 litres of bulk hand sanitiser across 15 manufacturing units for use by public healthcare workers and donated 1,50,000 masks to five state’s public health departments and introduced a Rs 30 million healthcare insurance for bartenders.

Diageo India had also launched a Rs 750 million revival and recovery program – ‘Raising the Bar’, to support pubs, bars and restaurants in the country, it added.