Raj Pharma, a member of the CovidActionCollab, is a pharmaceutical distributor. They are a wholesaler in Bangalore. The CAC Team spoke to Vijay Jain from Raj Pharma to understand their experience as part of the COVID-19 response so far.
What have been your key actions, initiatives and outcomes around the COVID-19 response?
We have provided sanitisers, N-95 masks and hydroxychloroquine tablets to government institutions and hospitals so that they can be distributed to those in need. We have also donated soaps to Swathi Mahila Sangha, a community based organization for female sex workers, which has a 13,000+ member base in Bangalore Urban District.
What are your biggest learnings/challenges?
We are finding it difficult to buy masks, medicine and other essentials due to the unavailability of stock and the price rise of over 200%. Finding transport facilities to distribute these essentials has also become hard due to the lockdown.
We saw that patients were being turned away from private hospitals and being redirected to government hospitals. This burden on government hospitals must be eased with free flow of necessities.
It is also difficult to acquire loans during this period due to economic uncertainty and instability. This has created a massive challenge for us in paying salaries to our workers.
Have any stories/insights emerged from the field or your work?
Fraud is rampant during this time. Vendors are abusing the dire need for essential supplies and show a false availability of masks and sanitisers. They ask for 50% payment in advance and do not end up delivering products. They also cut off further communication.
People are also impersonating courier agencies such as Blue Dart Express and stealing essential supply packages, resulting in further loss.
Our company has lost over 5 lakhs due to these frauds. Even the police are not ready to investigate our complaints.
Written by Ronak Parhi.