INDIA- British multinational brewing giant, Diageo, has pledged INR. 45 crores (about US$6 million) to support India’s COVID public health infrastructure during the second surge of the pandemic.

The maker of Johny Walker, Black and White, and McDonnel said that the funds will go towards helping nodal Government Hospitals in 21 districts to set up Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen Plants to create long-term oxygen capacity.

 The company further noted that it will provide state governments fully equipped, prefabricated 16-bed mini-hospital units with PSA oxygen plants in 15 most critical districts.

This is expected to help increase hospital bed capacity in the district with the flexibility to upgrade to ICUs or Critical Care as well as relocate to districts of greatest need.

In addition, the company will donate medical equipment including oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, ventilator beds and other critical devices to public hospitals across 10 States.

The donation from Diageo, which is currently the largest alcoholic beverage company in the country, will provide much-needed support towards India’s healthcare system which has been overwhelmed by the rising cases of Covid-19.

Covid-19 cases started spiralling towards the end of march and reached a peak of over 400,000 daily cases in May, completely overrunning India’s fragile healthcare infrastructure.

Oxygen became a scarce resource demanded by millions of India’s who were in critical conditions. The shortage of critical infrastructure such as ICU beds and oxygen concentrators and cylinders has led to fatalities which currently stand 304,000.

Diageo is among a growing number of corporate organizations throwing their weight behind efforts aimed at supporting India as it battles a third and worst wave of the coronavirus.

Over the last year, Diageo India has been at the forefront in supporting the country and industry through the crisis.

Starting March 2020, the company produced 300,000 litres of bulk hand sanitiser across 15 manufacturing units for use by public healthcare workers, donated 150,000 masks to 5 state’s Public Health departments and introduced a Rs. 3 crore healthcare insurance for bartenders.

 Diageo India also launched an INR 75 crore revival and recovery program – ‘Raising the Bar’, to support pubs, bars and restaurants.

 “At a time when the country is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, we want to support the Government’s efforts and stand by the citizens of India,” Anand Kripalu, Managing Director and CEO, Diageo India said.

“Long term medical infrastructure especially hospital beds and self-sufficiency in oxygen is what is needed most, and we hope our contribution going into every State and UT will help play a part in India’s recovery. With this pledge, Diageo have so far contributed Rs 130 Cr. towards Covid Relief.”

Given the scale of devastation, Diageo has adopted the ‘One District One State’ approach, with the aim to ensure that support reaches at least one district in each state and Union Territory of the country.

Diageo’s initiative will be supported by the national investment promotion agency, Invest India and executed by GiveIndia by prioritising the requirements of the state authorities, identifying critical districts, and ensuring smooth transition to state medical officials.