Media CenterCRS Rushes Aid to Rural Indian Hospitals Amid COVID-19 Surge

Photo courtesy of Shreyas, Organization for Sustainable Development and Justice

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Jen Hardy
Catholic Relief Services
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Baltimore, Maryland:
Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, May 12, 2021 – As COVID-19 surges across India, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is sending immediate assistance to medical centers outside of the bigger cities to meet growing needs in the more remote parts of the country.

“Hospitals in India need more equipment and staffing to serve the sickest patients,” said Marc D’Silva, regional director for CRS Asia. “While medical supplies are reaching the country, much of it is being directed to hospitals in the biggest cities, where it stands to help many people quickly. But the need is acute in small cities and rural areas, too.”

CRS is supporting more than 50 hospitals in smaller cities through the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI). CRS’ collaboration with CHAI will provide medical services to more than 100,000 COVID patients. This support includes the provision of personal protective equipment kits; medical supplies and disinfectants; staff surge and volunteer support; food for recovering patients; and psychosocial support for health care workers.

“The hospitals in urban and metro areas are crowded, with no space to breathe. Families are carrying patients from ambulances to the doors of the hospitals, only to be turned away with no hope. Outside of the larger cities, the situation is similar, but often there are no hospitals, so people are flooding urban areas,” said Jomey Joseph, head of office for CRS in India. “As migrants return home from the cities, rural areas are getting worse with little capacity to respond. Beyond COVID-19, it’s the lack of infrastructure that is killing people. People are gripped by fear, as they hear news of lost relatives and friends, wondering, ‘Will my family be next?’”

In addition to CRS’ collaboration with CHAI, CRS is supporting Caritas India and local government partners to help frontline health workers facilitate vaccine registration and share COVID-19 public health messages.

“We’ve seen great success in polio vaccination campaigns in India,” said Senthil Kumar, CRS’ country representative for India. “Now we need to take that experience and tailor it to COVID-19. We need vaccines in the right places at the right time, and we need people to understand the benefits of full vaccination, not only for themselves but to protect their family and community.”

CRS is equally concerned by the secondary impacts of the virus. According to recent reports, upward of 70 million people in India have been left jobless due to lockdowns.

“Millions of jobs were lost already during lockdowns in early 2020. This second wave could crush the most marginalized sections of society,” Kumar said. “Access to food will be limited. Making sure families can put food on the table is a priority.

CRS’ partnership with Caritas will provide emergency food and basic needs for 25,000 vulnerable people.

“In one way or another, no one on our staff has escaped the impacts of this horrible virus. Our hope is that the programming we’re able to provide during this dark time offers at least some relief to those suffering,” he said.


*To donate to CRS’ COVID-19 relief efforts, visit our donation page here.
*To read more about achieving global vaccine equity, visit our Get Involved page here.
*To find out more about what CRS is doing to help communities impacted by COVID-19, visit our crisis watch page here.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding.  For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
May 12, 2021

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More