Saturday December 7, 2019

What if Another Gorakhpur Tragedy Happens? 15-Year-Old Khushi Chandra Launches Initiative ‘Oxygen Gorakhpur’ to Combat Oxygen-Related Emergencies

Through her initiative Oxygen Gorakhpur, Khushi Chandra aims to raise funds for a continuous supply of oxygen to several under-resourced hospitals in Gorakhpur.

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Gorakhpur Tragedy
15 year old Khushi Sharma believes no child must be denied the right to live, or the right to breathe for which she has set up the charity 'Oxygen Gorakhpur'. VOA
  • Gorakhpur tragedy shook the entire nation starting early August after numerous children suffering from brain inflammation died in absence of oxygen
  • Over 290 children have died at BRD hospital, including 77 reported deaths from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome
  • Khushi Chandra launched ‘Oxygen Gorakhpur’ to offer assistance and provision of oxygen cylinders in case of emergencies

Gorakhpur, August 30, 2017: Child after child collapsed at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College in early August as the hospital ran out of oxygen supplies. Words fall short to mourn the deaths of over 60 children, among them several new born babies, or to slam the negligence of the hospital authorities in what has come to be known as the ‘Gorakhpur Tragedy’. As figures continue to soar even after a month, the tragedy has triggered gigantic uproar across the country. This prompted a teenager from Uttar Pradesh to launch a charity named ‘OXYGEN GORAKHPUR’.

The 15-year old face behind the not-for-profit organization ‘Oxygen Gorakhpur’, Khushi Chandra believes the Gorakhpur tragedy could have been prevented.

“This is very personal for me as it happened right at my doorstep. No child can be denied the right to life, and in this case, the right to breathe,” she said as she pioneered her righteous cause.

The organization aims to provide a secure and continues the supply of oxygen to indigent patients and hospitals across Gorakhpur in an attempt to meet sufficient requirements of the hospitals.

The organization aims to function on three dominant parameters-

  • Providing oxygen cylinders to hospitals during emergency
  • Reaching out to the needy by providing timely assistance
  • Build a strong oxygen-bank to provide round the clock support to hospitals

In the coming future, Oxygen Gorakhpur also aims to allocate oxygen provision vans for the transportation and delivery of oxygen cylinders to hospitals.

Horrific pictures of parents holding corpses of infants spanned across screens throughout mid-August with parents claiming they had died due to lack of oxygen in Gorakhpur’s Bada Raghav Das Medical(BRD) College after suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and Japanese Encephalitis, two diseases that are common in India, especially during the monsoons

The Gorakhpur tragedy has exposed the harsh reality of Uttar Pradesh’s flawed public healthcare system out in the open.

Through Oxygen Gorakhpur, Khushi intends to ensure that this does not happen again, and instill a sense of citizenship and responsibility towards the larger society, among the youth and adults alike while also ensuring improvement of conditions of hospitals and their amenities.

ALSO READ: Top Highlights of PM Narendra Modi’s Speech on India’s 71st Independence Day

Additionally, the initiative will serve and protect the youth by exhibiting support, and encouragement while also empowering citizens to be the change-makers of today.

“As an accountable citizen of my city and the country, I feel responsible towards ensuring such tragedies do not happen again”, she said as per a report by ANI.

According to latest reports by PTI, over 290 children have died at the hospital from August 1 to August 28, including 77 reported deaths from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

Chandra also observed that the Indian government’s expenditure on public health services makes up for less than 1 per cent of the GDP, which is among the world’s lowest figures. However, she is hopeful as the Modi-led government has increased spending on health services, with an underlying aim to make healthcare more affordable and available.

Chandra feels help must immediately be provided to under-resourced hospitals and must be maintained in the long run.

“I seek support from other like-minded citizens to join hands to ensure that oxygen never runs out in our hospitals” are Khushi’s words on Oxygen Gorakhpur’s official website.

Citizens can extend their support to this noble initiative by buying an oxygen cylinder, contributing funds or spreading the word about the project.

 


 

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Advance Of Summit, NATO Pacify Trump

NATO also plans to consider a Franco-German proposal

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Flags of NATO member countries
Flags of NATO member countries are seen at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

As Britain prepares for the NATO leaders’ meeting outside London December 3-4, the alliance said Thursday it had agreed to redistribute costs and cut the U.S. contribution to its central budget.

NATO’s central budget is relatively small at around $2.5 billion a year, mostly covering headquarters operations and staff, and different than its defense budget. U.S. President Donald Trump often complains of inequitable burden-sharing, with only nine of the 29 member countries meeting the 2%  of gross domestic product target for the alliance’s defense spending.

Regarding the central budget, “The U.S. will pay less, Germany will pay more, so now the U.S. and Germany will pay the same,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Paris Thursday.

The United States currently pays about 22% of NATO’s central budget. Beginning 2021, both U.S. and Germany will contribute about 16%.

NATO also plans to consider a Franco-German proposal to create a working group of “respected figures” to discuss reform in the alliance and address concerns about its future.

The announcement to reduce the American contribution is seen as a move to placate Trump, who has considered withdrawing from the alliance but has since taken credit for its promised reforms.

“In 2016, only four allies spent 2%  of GDP on defense,” a senior administration official told reporters Friday, adding that there are now nine countries, including the U.S.,  meeting the 2% target, with 18 expected to do so by 2024.

“This is tremendous progress, and I think it is due to the president’s diplomatic work,” he said.

 U.S. forces from Syria, a move Trump made without consulting NATO
A convoy of U.S. vehicle is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq. VOA

Internal strife

Leaders of the 29 member states will attempt a show of unity during the summit but the alliance is facing questioning about its relevance and unity, particularly after the October withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, a move Trump made without consulting NATO.

“It’s exactly in the wake of that decision that you had [French] President [Emmanuel] Macron say what he said about the alliance being ‘brain-dead’ and referencing the lack of American leadership in the sense of leading in a community and not just going out on your own,” said Gary Schmitt, a NATO analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.

U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Syria prompted Turkey to launch an offensive against Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The move spurred Macron to vent his frustration over what French diplomats say is NATO’s lack of coordination at a political level, and triggered fear among allies that the assault will undermine the battle against Islamic State militants.

Meanwhile, a simmering war between Russia and Ukraine has become the backdrop of Trump’s impeachment, with the American president allegedly having withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate running against Trump. Kyiv needs the aid to counter Moscow’s aggression.

The two conflicts in Europe’s eastern and southern flank further complicate Washington’s already-strained relations with other NATO members. Meanwhile, despite American efforts to reassure European leaders of Washington’s continuing commitment, anxiety about U.S. neglect of NATO under Trump persists, said Hans Kundnani, Senior Research Fellow in the Europe Program at Chatham House.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, welcomes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, welcomes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine. VOA

Kundnani noted a series of American officials who have come to reassure Europeans not to take Trump’s tweets too seriously and focus on what is happening on the ground, particularly the military reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank. Still, Kundnani said that in the last year Europeans have started to realize it’s “not really good enough” and they’re now facing the “reality of the of the crisis in NATO.”

“Some of them are hoping that Trump will be out of office in in a year’s time but the real fear is that Trump wins a second term,” said Kundnani, adding that some Europeans are hoping that “U.S. gradual withdrawal from Europe” might “snap back to the status quo ante if Trump is not re-elected.”

Diverging European responses

“The upcoming celebration of NATO’s 70th anniversary will be marked by important divisions within the alliance — not just across the Atlantic, but also within Europe,” said Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

In Paris, the view is “strategic autonomy,” said Donfried, with many in France concluding that Washington’s security guarantee can no longer be relied on. Warsaw is promoting “strategic embrace”  developing close bilateral relationship with Trump to guarantee its own security, while Berlin is advocating “strategic patience.”

Germany in the middle is a little bit divided between the “Atlanticists” and the “post-Atlanticists,”   Kundani said, adding that “Europeans are very much arguing” about these approaches.

Donfried said that against this backdrop, NATO allies are approaching the London summit with a sense of foreboding, knowing that they carry the responsibility to articulate alliance’s common purpose and ongoing relevance.

“If they don’t, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will be raising a glass in Moscow to the fraught state of the alliance at 70,” she said.

Another summit goal for most European leaders, is to simply avoid a Trump flare-up, like those that have happened in past meetings.

NATO meetings
President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations General Assembly, New York. VOA

Many have discovered this can be achieved through flattery. “They can talk about all the things that they’ve done and very smartly suggest that President Trump has generated the kind of pressure to make those things happen,” Schmitt said.

“They can actually praise President Trump, even though this is very hard for them to do because of the personality clashes.”

Many will be watching Trump’s encounters with Macron, including their bilateral meeting, as well as with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson has pleaded for Trump to stay out of the upcoming British election during his London trip.

The senior administration official said that Trump is “aware of this” and “absolutely cognizant of not wading into other countries’ elections.”

ALSO READ: Trump Secure The Higher Ground On Criminal Justice Issues in 2020 Campaign

Other potential clashes are simmering too. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Emmanuel Macron’s NATO “brain-death” warning reflects a “sick and shallow” understanding, telling the French president “you should check whether you are brain dead.”

The French foreign ministry has summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Paris to protest the statement. (VOA)