India’s health care catastrophe and how to help

April 27, 2021

On behalf of the University of Michigan, I express my empathy to all in our community affected by the unfolding health care catastrophe in India. An explosion of COVID-19 cases in India is overwhelming the nation’s public health, medical, and infrastructure capacities.

India has long been one of our most cherished international partners in education and research. About 1,000 of our current students and 6,000 alumni hail from India. Many are in the country now experiencing the crisis personally. We also have established several collaborations with Indian organizations and academic institutions and are also proud to have many faculty and staff of Indian heritage.

The U.S. government has pledged to help, and we urge immediate and meaningful action. We are sharing our expertise with elected leaders to advise on how to best provide assistance.

Many in our community are asking how they can help, too, with so many lives at stake.

With leadership from the U-M India Advisory Board and the U-M India Alumni Association, the Michigan community is stepping up in a big way.  We’ve heard from graduates in India who are providing oxygen to hospitals and using their companies to support infrastructure and provide real-time data to health officials.  Our faculty and staff are also working tirelessly to share medical and public health expertise with peers in India.

U-M’s connections to India run very deep. In 1917, our Barbour Scholarship Fund was endowed to provide fellowship support to women from India and other Asian countries doing graduate work. The U-M India Advisory Board provides guidance, insight and counsel on enhancing our engagements in India. The board has helped to identify and strengthen academic and research collaborations and increase private support. It is co-chaired by Ravi Pendse, U-M’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

U-M community members with connections to India have been reaching out to better understand where we can provide needed immediate assistance.  Those who wish to donate in support of relief efforts are encouraged to give to the American India Foundation’s COVID Response Fund.  Entering “University of Michigan” in the comment box will ensure that your gift is recognized as part of the U-M community’s effort to assist at this critically important time.

We know many of you with family or friends in India are suffering. Please do not hesitate to reach out to access university support resources if you need help during such a difficult time. Our Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are available to all students.

Our Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office (FASCCO) is open and available to provide support to U-M faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses with phone sessions and virtual telehealth sessions as appropriate. Our Michigan Medicine Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience is open and available to provide counseling, stress consults, and information to all Michigan Medicine faculty and staff.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Salokaya College of Nursing – two of our academic partners – along with India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan. They all have a deep commitment to saving lives and advancing the health of their communities. I know they are all experiencing sorrow and shock from the crisis in their nation, and I extend my gratitude to everyone who is helping to save lives in India.

Mark S. Schlissel

Leave a comment: