COVID-19 Relief

Working with donors during the pandemic to aid communities in need

The Global Health Initiative has partnered with the Optica Foundation to provide relief during the pandemic leveraging optics-based technology and dedicated members of our community. Donations to the COVID-19 Relief Fund support activities listed here.

Launching a Pulse Oximeter Community Sharing Program in India

Oxygen is in extreme short supply and the Indian healthcare system has been crippled by COVID-19. Oxygen saturation meters (pulse oximeters) are also in short supply and are essential to preserving oxygen supply for those who need it most. The Global Health Initiative is proud to partner with IndiaCovidSOS to distribute pulse oximeters in India via our network of dedicated volunteers and IndiaCovidSOS distribution channels.

Why this is critical

  • One in 10 people diagnosed with COVID-19 require supplemental oxygen to survive
  • Detecting low oxygen levels early can enable patients to access lifesaving oxygen
  • Nine in 10 people who do not need supplemental oxygen can be triaged away from receiving this critical resource, reserving supplies for those in most need
  • Community-sharing programs can enable a single oximeter (with disinfection) to be shared among 10+ people, which could save one life

How the community sharing of pulse oximeters will work

  • We are implementing this solution with India-based partners
  • A fair price of $10 per oximeter has been negotiated for bulk purchases of suitable devices
  • Oximeters will be loaned out free of charge as part of this community-sharing program
  • We are partnering  with the largest ambulance network in India to deliver the units to underserved communities so that patients can then be triaged efficiently


Sanitizing n95 Masks with UV-C Chambers

In 2020, Thomas Baer, Stanford University and 2009 OSA President spearheaded an effort to address the high demand for personal protection equipment (PPE), including n95 respirators, during the COVID-19 pandemic. His concept was to leverage our global network of student chapters, specifically those in low-income countries, to assist their local communities by leveraging optical technology to extend the life of PPEs.

Tom, along with colleagues Manu Prakash, Jeffery Wilde and Bert Hesselink, all of Stanford University, developed a UV-C decontamination chamber (wavelength between 200 nm and 280 nm) using readily accessible low-cost commercial components with the potential to expose over 5,000 n95 respirators per day at the generally accepted fluence levels necessary for decontamination of coronaviruses. These chambers are easily constructed with parts sourced locally and deployed to hospitals. They do, however, require optical knowledge and technical ability to ensure proper illumination and safety protocols. 

Leveraging generous donations from Tom as well Milton Chang, Erich Ippen, Ursula Gibson and Chris Dainty, we provided 30 chapter grants in low-income countries, allowing them to produce chambers in partnership with local hospitals.