Human Resources: In conversation with Ashwini Bhat of Swasti






Swasti is a key public health partner of the CovidActionCollab. Ashwini Bhat, People Process Partner at Swasti, shared with us her experience of being part of the COVID-19 response so far.


What have been your key actions, initiatives and outcomes around the COVID-19 response?

We have set up a COVID-19 Response Command Centre tasked to monitor the COVID19 situation world-wide and empowered to take rapid decisions and actions concerning staff welfare and community welfare. 

Our frontline health workers as well as nurses went through training to be able to handle patient flow in the coming months and also to emotionally prepare them for emergent situations. 

We issued advisories ones for our partners – in factories and community organisations (urban poor, rural poor, women in sex work, marginalised gay men and transpersons). These advisories have also been made available in 7 languages in audio and print, and have been disseminated through our networks using whatsapp, emails and through community leaders. We also did a series of webinars for organisations who wanted inputs on how to deal with their responses; from March 10th to March 31st. 

We wrote to the National AIDS Control Organisation to ensure a 3 month supply of ART for People Living with HIV; as People Living with HIV on ARV are at risk of COVID19 if there is an interruption to their supply. We were heartened by the response of NACO which quickly issued letters to the States on the same. 

We put together resources for other organisations – in public health or in any sector for use in their response- Swasti Covid Response

On March 23rd we launched the CovidactionCollab with the Catalyst Group of organisations.

The COVID Action Collaborative is open for both individuals and entities, across all sectors who wish to contribute to a comprehensive and coordinated COVID-19 response. The collaborative offers a healthy exchange and supportive ecosystem of:

  • People – World-renowned experts and volunteers
  • Practical resources – Tools, Frameworks, Checklists, Materials, Medical Technology and more.
  • Financing – Whether you want to contribute or you need funding
  • Partnerships – Of other organisations, capabilities and reach

Since the lockdown in India (March 24th), we have worked with our teams on the ground to ensure a package of critical support to key communities we work with – rural and urban poor, women in sex work, transgender persons, vulnerable gay men, factory workers and health workers – 6,30,000 people so far – have remained fed, cared for and resilient.

What are your biggest learnings/challenges?

Learnings – working with collectives such as DesignBeku are more productive to work with as there is a point person on the other side who understands volunteerism and can coordinate to deliver

Challenges – While volunteers are generally responsive and cooperative, few of the volunteers are not responsive at all

Have any stories/insights emerged from the field or from your work?

We (Swasti) needed to create many awareness materials and digital tools; We reached out to Rahul from Obvious (our collaborator in CAC). He made a quick form and tweeted it on his network and in a day 120 volunteers of design and tech expertise came on Slack platform. Now we have 171 volunteers, more than half are active. Close to 19 plus materials have been made. Plus three digital tools- oh, they are amazing!

How did you leverage the COVID Action Collaborative? How do you plan on doing so in the future?

We have mobilized around 200 volunteers which will include international volunteers as well; engaged for Comms, Health advisory and Social Protection related work; we have used them for various services such as 1) Translation of the entire Diksha curriculum into vernacular languages 2) Converting Diksha content into consumable forms 3) Converting MoHFW SOPs into videos 4) Preparation of awareness materials and digital tools.


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