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#UniteWithoutBorders: Protecting The Frontline Warriors - Medical Caregivers In The Fight Against Coronavirus Pandemic

#UniteWithoutBorders: Protecting The Frontline Warriors - Medical Caregivers In The Fight Against Coronavirus Pandemic


  1. Unite Without Borders is a NDTV-Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF) initiative
  2. The campaign aims to raise money to help protect medical caregivers
  3. Funds will be used in providing protective gears to healthcare workers
New Delhi: 

In December 2019, China's Wuhan reported the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus and since then the virus has not only spread to various parts of China but around 200 countries and territories in the world. Across the world, it's the medical caregivers who are fighting against the Coronavirus pandemic, working day in and day out, risking their lives. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) commonly known as Doctors Without Borders, the independent medical organisation's doctors and nurses are treating patients and supporting communities across Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia. In an attempt to support India, the fourth worst-hit country by Coronavirus, in combating COVID-19, MSF is starting its operations in Mumbai's Govandi and Bihar's Patna where it has set-up two dedicated medical facilities to treat COVID-19 patients.

NDTV and MSF have come together and initiated a campaign #UniteWithoutBorders to highlight the work of frontline warriors and raise funds to support medical staff and healthcare workers by providing them essential technical equipment, and protective gear. The money will also be used in improving sanitation facilities among communities most affected by COVID-19, distributing hygiene kits to vulnerable groups and preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through health education.

As part of the campaign, a two-hour special telethon was also organised to raise funds and initiate a conversation around the importance of protecting frontline warriors. The telethon was joined by industry experts, doctors, celebrities, and social workers who together discussed the pandemic and what needs to be done to contain the spread of the virus.

Shobhana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited & Former CII President joined the telethon and spoke about healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 battle from the frontline and being exposed to the virus. She said,

Healthcare workers are not thinking of their lives. We have done whatever we can to support them. They work for a week and quarantine for another week. We can't let our guard down. The healthcare workers know they will most likely contract the virus. Until there is a vaccine, the only thing we can say is that at Apollo we will treat every single person who is on the frontline and help them with whatever they need.

At the #UniteWithoutBorders telethon, Dr Prince Matthews, Regional Head of Mission, Asia & Head of Mission of Bihar COVID-19 project, MSF, elaborated on MSF's project in Patna and Mumbai and said,

In Mumbai, we converted the complex into a care centre because of the flow of people and made a proper quarantine facility. The added value we are bringing to Bihar is oxyginated beds since it's less in India. We are also supporting mental health as COVID also has a stigma problem, no support mechanism exists and we wanted to support doctors and Asha and Anganwadi workers and we have a helpline number to support the frontline workers.

Dr David Nabarro, WHO Director General's Special Envoy For COVID-19 Response also joined the campaign and spoke about the importance of organisations like MSF in dealing with the pandemic and the three key learnings - taking the virus seriously; identifying where the virus is and interrupting quickly to stop the transmission; support hospitals and health centres.


Dr Nabarro also appreciated India's response to the virus and said,

If India had not been strong at the beginning, the virus would be much more widespread in your country. You'd have a doubling time of infection of three days. As it is, you've been able to slow the doubling time and that has been remarkable.

Also Read: WHO's David Nabarro Joins #UniteWithoutBorders, Highlights The Importance Of Investing In Public Healthcare

Anu Aga, Founder-Trustee, Teach For India & Former Chairperson, Thermax Ltd stressed on recognising the efforts of healthcare workers who are doing a tremendous job.


Ms Aga also noted that social distancing and hand hygiene can be practised well by the middle class and well to do but what about people living in slums? She said,

In a Pune slum, there is no water for last three days, so how do they wash hands. Ten people live in a house, how can they practise physical distance? There's a lot to be done. We need to spend the budget on education and healthcare

Dr Christos Christou, International President, MSF joined the telethon and spoke about the medical emergency and MSF's response in India and international. Dr Christou said,

Our first priority is to maintain that all programmes are running smoothly and essentials are provided. In some countries, we need to ensure, people are protected. The key challenge is how to better mobilise our staff and supplies. We need to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE), without which we can't ensure protection to our healthcare workers. The supplies can't move from one place to another due to restrictions.

Unite Without Borders campaign also got support from Dr Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Faculty Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.


While stressing on the protecting the healthcare workers, Dr Ashish Jha said,

The most important thing to remember is that we are probably a year away to having a vaccine. Until then we will battle the virus. In USA, it has been the worst response to COVID for an advanced country. We opened too early. It;s an important message for India, we have started seeing surges now, and I believe that will continue to rise.

At #UniteWithoutBorders telethon, Bhaichung Bhutia, Former Captain, Indian Football Team, stressed on ensuring healthcare workers are safe and have adequate protective equipment to fight COVID-19.

If they are safe, they will have more confidence to help people who are suffering, said Bhaichung Bhutia.

Dr Anjan Trikha, Chairman Of Clinical Managerial Group COVID Centre, AIIMS who has been working at the forefront spoke about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and said,

The position is much better. Earlier hospitals faced issues on the PPE front but we are comfortable. The right level of PPE in the right area is important. I think if we test more, we will have more cases. I think on the health front we are doing much better than many other countries.

Dr. Unni Karunakara, Former International President and Senior Fellow at Yale University's Institute for Global Health also joined the campaign and appreciated the early lockdown imposed by India. However, he noted that the situation of migrants walking back to home could have been managed better.


Furhter talking about the stigma attached to COVID-19 warriors, Dr Unni said,

Stigma is not bad only for the patients but also for the healthcare workers. Many healthcare workers in India are being asked to leave their homes. We need to protect health workers with PPE kits but also with legal protection for their rights. Doctors are the first one to get infected.

Suresh Raina, Indian Cricketer, thanked the doctors for fighting a battle for the nation and requested his fans to not disrespect doctors.


You never know, you might see their faces on your door. So you just need to be calm and just be sure you look after their safety. And if they were not helping us, you can imagine our lives would be very very bad. So please, I request, please support them. And look after their mental situation right now, he said.

Talking about whether lockdown was the right decision, Naina Lal Kidwai, Former Country Head, HSBC India and Former President, FICCI said, the lockdown was important for the nation to prepare for healthcare facilities. She also noted that it was important to open up and now as we are more aware of the situation, citizens need to do their bit even more.

Sharika Amin, MSF psychologist elaborated on how to cope with the current situation and ensure the well-being of our mental health. She said,

I feel the first step to cope with the situation is to stop fighting the situation. Acceptance is key here and what else works is to actually connect and share support for your loved ones, family, friends. Our focus should be more on prevention and on what is in our control. And I think one very effective strategy for that is actually having a schedule, a routine that gives a sense of purpose to our day. And mostly, what is most important is to remember to fear what is necessary and not everything that is around us or in us.


Ms Amin also informed that MSF has launched a pan-India helpline which is available 24x7 and is free of cost for anybody going through any mental distress or any emotional issue in need for support.

Joining the #UniteWithoutBorders telethon, Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Edinburgh & Founding Director, Global Health Governance Programme talked about different symptoms of Coronavirus and how it affects a human body.


She also spoke about the importance of groups like Doctors Without Borders in fighting global pandemics and said,

They are incredibly important because I think this is a virus and a disease that, if you do need medical care and you do not get it; you will die from this. And these groups that are providing this medical care are saving lives and doing very valuable work that we should all applaud and support.

Also Read: #UniteWithoutBorders: Health Expert Devi Sridhar On Coronavirus And How To Cope With It

Talking about protecting frontline warriors - healthcare professionals, actress Vidya Balan said that PPE must be provided to every medical staff protecting us, doing their jobs in these difficult times.


We can't be angry with healthcare professionals. What if they stop leaving their houses to protect you? We can't discriminate against healthcare professionals, no matter what, said Ms Balan. 

Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital  & Founder & Managing Trustee, Lung Care Foundation said that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought the world almost to a grinding halt and very categorically noted the world will have more such pandemics in the time to come.


Talking about the learnings from the pandemic and what needs to be done to ensure the world doesn't have such outbreaks, Dr Arvind Kumar said,

Instead of reacting in an emergency way as we did to this pandemic, we need to make our systems ready for such pandemics. Also, we need to do something to stop the animal-human interaction which is the cause of this.

Dr Arvind Kumar also hoped that fewer healthcare workers fall sick so that they can take care of citizens and exit the pandemic.

Viswanathan Anand, Five time world chess champion and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee also joined the campaign focused on protecting medical caregivers and talked about the new normal - empty streets and people walking with masks on their faces.


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About The Campaign

About The Campaign

COVID-19 remains a health emergency and a deadly threat, especially to the most vulnerable. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been responding to the global pandemic since it began. MSF doctors and nurses are treating patients and supporting communities across Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.

Now the independent medical organisation is starting operations to combat COVID-19 in India. By setting up dedicated medical facilities to treat COVID-19 patients in Govandi, Mumbai and Patna in Bihar – where needs are huge and growing - and improving hygiene and sanitation among at-risk communities, MSF is working hard to save lives and contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

We need your help to deliver this urgently needed care. Your money will go to support MSF’s frontline medical staff and healthcare workers, supplying them with essential technical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE), plus mental-health support for medical staff working during this stressful time. Your contributions will also go towards containing the outbreak by providing masks and hygiene kits to keep thousands of the most vulnerable people protected.

*Disclaimer: NDTV is the broadcast partner for a 2-hour telethon by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to raise donations to combat COVID-19 virus. The donations are received by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and shall be utilized according to a plan prepared and monitored by them. 


NDTV has no role to play in the use of donations and will not be liable for any claim(s) made by any person or entity, including any statutory or governmental authority, aris ing out of the collection or utilization of these donations.


The global prices for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) have been fluctuating  dramatically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this the price mentioned for a full PPE kit - face protection, goggles and mask or face shield, gloves, gown or coverall, head cover, rubber boots - may not reflect the final purchase price. As well as being able to procure PPE in necessary numbers, MSF also requires it to be of a necessary standard. The volatility of the global PPE market is likely to continue, which is why MSF has been calling for a form of regulation to allow equitable and reliable distribution of medical equipment and PPE that is of necessary minimum quality.

The cost mentioned is for a kit for a caregiver and not a single PPE kit.​​