Dr Miniya Chatterji was in France in the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “When I returned to India, there were only about 300 cases here. But I knew that when the disease would spread, our healthcare system would be under tremendous stress… And in a country where one in six people live in slums, physical distancing would be a challenge,” says Dr Miniya, who is the director of AnantU Centre for Sustainability and the CEO of Sustain Labs Paris.
In May, Dr Miniya and her colleague at Anant University Dhaval Monani wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that large spaces such as halls that are not in use must be utilised to set up COVID-19 treatment centres to make them accessible. They scouted for collaborations independently as well – and several organisations, NGOs, corporates and Anant University, state governments and local self-governments came together.
The resulting public-private-university partnership model has resulted in several low-cost COVID-19 treatment centres for mild to moderate cases being set up in various parts of India including Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Rajkot, Mumbai and Delhi.
How these treatment centres are set up
The first such centre came up in Thiruvananthapuram with 20 beds, four of which were made of cardboard. These cardboard beds, designed by Anant University, are made in such a way that they are supported at every important part of the structure so they can take the weight of six people. The state governments and local administration helped them zero in on the location to set up these centres in Kerala and elsewhere.