This evaluation assessed the oxygenation initiatives anchored by a non-profit venture philanthropy platform (ACT Grants) aimed at enabling a more effective and affordable healthcare system in India in the long term.
Given the magnitude of COVID-19’s adverse health and humanitarian crisis and challenges within the Indian public healthcare system, a rapid, agile, coordinated and data-driven response was required. ACT was formed as a collective between various entities in the start-up, venture capital and philanthropic ecosystem, initially with the aim of contributing to the fight against COVID-19 in India and, in the longer-term, to aid with strengthening the country’s healthcare system. To assess the impact of these initiatives, LEAD at Krea University conducted an independent impact assessment study.
A mixed method approach was designed, utilising secondary programmatic monitoring and evaluation (M&E) maintained by the team at ACT, along with primary quantitative surveys with 450 healthcare facilities that received oxygen equipment from ACT Grants and Swasth Alliance. A primary quantitative survey was also completed with 80 healthcare facilities where PSA plants were installed by ACT. To supplement the findings from the surveys, a process assessment was conducted through in-depth interviews with NGO partners and government functionaries who facilitated the various initiatives of the alliance.
Findings from the assessment for oxygenation initiatives suggest that the alliance’s response in delivering oxygen devices to beneficiary facilities was highly timely with 86 per cent of OCs reaching the healthcare facilities during the peak of the second wave. Delivery of additional oxygenation devices has significantly increased the oxygenation capacity of medical facilities, particularly among primary and community health centre-level facilities and hospitals with less than 20-bed capacity, where over 74 per cent of oxygen requirements can be met by equipment donated by the alliance alone.
However, infrastructural bottlenecks persist at government facilities in terms of a lack of timely access to medical repair technicians, inadequate electrical outlets and power interruptions that reduce the effectiveness of these devices in the long run. Another significant issue identified was the lack of awareness in public healthcare facilities that received oxygen devices on the alternative use cases of OCs for non-COVID conditions that can be treated at the facility.
The role of multistakeholder voluntary partnerships such as that of ACT Grants and its partners in addressing complex challenges that affect population groups has been receiving recognition globally. The COVID-19 pandemic served as an intense testing ground for understanding the impact of alliance-led initiatives through private sector-led philanthropic partnerships. Learning from these experiences have identified key focus areas that need to be targeted simultaneously to ensure sustainable healthcare systems in the long run.