India boasts the largest postal system in the world and with its decision to deliver lifesaving medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic, the postal service’s extraordinary role during the countrywide lockdown is appreciated, globally. EurAsian Times gets you a report from the BBC.
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India has always associated getting a postal mail with good luck and the postal service still maintains a special place in the hearts and minds of the people.
The Indian Post is so much more than just delivering letters and packages — it is a bank, a pension fund and a saving account for many Indians and now a lifesaver amidst the global pandemic.
Now, when the transportation of medicines and essential items is difficult given the pandemic, Indian postal service has heroically stepped in to transport medicines — wherever required in the country.
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When India went into total lockdown on 24 March in an attempt to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, all businesses – apart from essential services – were ordered to shut and people were told to stay home.
Given that the announcement was made barely four hours ahead of the lockdown going into effect, many industries were left in the lurch – including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and labs at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.
Ashok Kumar Madan, the executive director of the Indian Drug Manufacturer’s Association (IDMA), told the BBC, “We were facing a lot of difficulties. We usually rely on courier services to send out products to customers, but none of them were responding, probably because they didn’t have curfew passes or delivery people”. Many of these products being medicines for heart patients and cancer.
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Just when there was no way out of this problem, a call from Alok Ojha, the senior superintendent of the postal service in Uttar Pradesh was a ray of hope.
The Indian postal service had already partnered with IDMA in Gujrat and Alok now offered to do it on a wider scale, nationwide. It is also important to note that Indian Postal service is deemed as an ” essential service” during the lockdown and has access all over the country.
“We thought we could help with this as we have an intact supply chain. Many people I spoke to said this would help as it helps keep drugs in the market and prevents hoarding,” Mr Ojha told the BBC.
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One of the instances in which the heroic efforts of the Indian Postal Service to deliver essential medicines came to light when Dr Ujjala Ghoshal, a microbiologist at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in the northern city of Lucknow, told the BBC she got in touch with Mr Ojha when a batch of Covid-19 testing kits she urgently needed — was stuck in the capital Delhi.
The postal service immediately jumped to help and actually went to the institute to pick up the kits, instead of having them dropped off at a post office, she added.
Delivering life-saving drugs, N95 masks and batches of sanitizers, many other institutions started calling them for help. The Indian postal service has access to more than 60,000 villages and towns which proves how good of a transport arrangement they are during the lockdown.
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Fulfilling every request made to the department, postal services are now taking orders from drug manufacturers who said their medicines needed cold chain maintenance. For a consignment of defibrillators that had to be transported from the state of Tamil Nadu to Uttar Pradesh cargo planes were used by the Indian Postal services.
“We are the best-connected service in India. We are everywhere. And in this case, we knew we could help,” Mr Ojha concluded.