Over the past month, this group has leveraged social media to help some 300 Covid patients find treatment

CWR members on a group meeting on Zoom

When the second wave of Covid-19 began choking medical infrastructure, leaving tens of thousands frantically looking for medical care and posting appeals for help on social media, a group of friends realised it was time to pitch in. Pratika E. Prabhune and 16 others began helping by contacting suppliers to check on the availability of oxygen and medications and reaching out to those asking for help with the information they had gathered. The group named itself the Citizens’ War Room (CWR).

Prabhune says the group found itself overwhelmed with requests for help in the first week, with about one message every three minutes. Soon, a request for volunteers was put out and responses came in from across India. “People were unable to find beds or [medicines or oxygen] themselves,” says Prabhune, a Mumbai-based rapper and content manager at Ticket Fairy. The collective’s job entailed following up with suppliers and hospitals and immediately connecting the family of the Covid-19 patient to a verified resource. Apart from responding to hundreds of SOS calls over the past month, the collective has reached out to over 300 people so far. With the help of Dr Chinmay Patkar, 28, co-founder of CWR, the group has also been able to provide clinical guidance over the phone. Patkar himself recently fielded a 2 am call from a 56-year-old Covid-positive patient in Bengaluru. “She was diabetic and had a severe infection that made it impossible for her to walk,” says Patkar. After speaking with her, he recommended a course of medication, while CWR volunteers helped source medication and find a doctor who could visit her at home to administer treatment. “She received all the help by early morning the next day,” says Patkar.

Though the number of social media SOSs have reduced, CWR’s work goes on. The collective’s core group convenes on Zoom every day to discuss future programmes, which now includes raising funds to feed the underprivileged.

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