Gangtok: Sikkim has a few entrepreneurs that always make the right noise, be it for innovation or for their concern for the state. Serial entrepreneur Rewaj Chettri is one such person, who always tries to find solutions to problems, instead of merely complaining.
While pulse oximeters are considered to be an absolute necessity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, buying one from your nearest pharmacist could blow a hole in your pocket.
Amid this scenario, Chettri, founder of NE Taxi and online marketplace NE Origins, has managed to procure 1,700 oximeters for the state from various donors across the country.
Sikkim Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Cell, the organisation that Chettri is a part of, has been monitoring COVID-19 patients in the state for a long time now.
However, SEED felt a big gap when a family of six — all COVID-19 patients — didn’t even have a single pulse oximeter at their disposal. To address that issue, Chettri made use of his wide network and, along with major funders in the country such as India Welfare Trust, he was able to secure the consignment of pulse oximeters.
“In other states, there are many NGOs working for the people, but in Sikkim there are hardly any. So, to monitor COVID-19 patients, we got hold of the pulse oximeters. I am the mediator who networked with the donors to procure the equipment under the initiative of ‘Soch by SEED Cell’,” said Chettri, who is leading the fundraising and distribution part of the initiative with help from the government.
Even though some members from the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha have been getting pulse oximeters on their own, many in rural parts of Sikkim have never heard of these devices. Most remain unaware of even the ideal oxygen satural levels in a healthy individual.
“Such a device will save a lot of lives, as they can monitor their oxygen saturation levels on their own. They will know if they need hospitalisation. Till now, our way of finding the severity of the patients has been through their symptoms,” Chettri explains.
Although Chettri and the team managed to get just 1,700 pulse oximeters, they have plans to eventually procure 10,000 such devices for Sikkim and its neighbouring hill areas.
“We have the initiative on a national-level fund raising platform Milaap. We have raised Rs 5 lakh through it get more pulse oximeters. In our state, a lot of COVID-19 cases are coming from South Sikkim district. So, through the state government, we want to hand over 500 pulse oximeters to people of the district,” Chettri said.
Chettri and his team plan to deliver the devices to the people through a proper distribution network. It will be carried out in association with district magistrate.
“If there are any NGOs working towards COVID-19, we will give them for distribution. We are yet to plan it out for other districts but if there is an urgency it can be worked out through the health department,” said Chettri.
Chettri has been working on procuring the pulse oximeters for over a week now.
“Our initial plan was to get 3,000 pulse oximeters, for which we have already raised the money. We are also trying to help other Northeastern states but we don’t have the funding for this so far. India Welfare Trust has taken charge of the costs. We are in talks with other funders. Testing kits such as Coviself are also being considered. We are speaking with vendors and funders,” he added.
Soch by SEED Cell has been monitoring all COVID-19 patients in home isolation, which includes a majority of the positive cases. The initiative is completely tech-driven with many volunteers currently working for it.