The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to be a plight for everyone across the world. These waves and surges in positive cases have proven the battle has not been won yet.
Despite all preparedness, the second wave had severe implications in the form of spiralling cases, reduced medical supplies, an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders, and increased deaths. Just when everyone thought COVID was long gone, there was yet another wave of fear, fatigue, and waiting to step out of houses without the virus threat.
Since the onset of the pandemic, OnlyMyHealth.com, Jagran New Media’s health Web site, defined its responsibility as creating and dispersing authentically and verified information about COVID, and it continues to do so.
Building resilience during the recurrent waves of COVID was a major force in bringing the second leg of the HealthCare Heroes Awards by Jagran New Media to life. In an effort to highlight stories of hope, grit, and courage, the second edition paved its way into people’s hearts. The goal was to break the cycle of panic, especially after the disruptive COVID wave that brought tragedy and uncertainty to everyone.
The HealthCare Heroes Awards sought to recognise and appreciate the unsung heroes fighting the war with the virus with their best capacities. The affirmation that heroes do exist became stronger as we witnessed people’s zeal in helping others despite the ongoing pandemic.
We sought heroes working around the clock to provide support in any form — from oxygen, food supplies, and mental health support, remotely or on the ground. These real heroes fought to spread hope, belief, and assurance that we are all in this together.
During the awards’ first edition, we witnessed heroes facing the unforeseen, while this was more crucial as we now knew the consequences and some people felt more fear. While some of us were fighting the pandemic by staying home, some fought by showing up each day — undeterred.
Searching for nominees
The OnlyMyHealth.com team searched relentlessly for individuals and organisations from villages and metro areas that spread hope during the pandemic’s trying times. Our team of field reporters and stringers searched through on-the-ground reporting and social media outreach, which included a great deal of leg work and editorial vetting.
The award nominations fell under eight categories. Teams spent a great deal of time understanding and accessing the impact of the work done by each nominee under these eight categories. Strict editorial policies were followed in vetting every possibility with several rounds of checks through various sources.
Finding inspiring stories was a remarkable experience for the entire team. For example, we were moved by the determination of 71-year-old Jeminiben, a retired matron who stepped forward with her frail but unwavering determination to fight against COVID. The HealthCare Heroes nomination list proudly had names like Asha worker Matilda Kullu, Ashwathy Murali from the Adivasi community, DSP Shilpa Sahu from the Naxal front, and the Hemkunt Foundation, which helped combat the oxygen shortage during the second wave.
In a quest to find noteworthy awardees, some stories had never been heard. One of the striking stories was of Ronita Sharma Rekhi, who was nominated under the “mother and infants” category. She donated breastmilk to infants and toddlers who had lost their mothers or were unable to get breastmilk due to COVID. This is just an example of what led to the inspiring stories that made the second edition of the HealthCare Heroes Awards a success story.
Undeterred by the fact that the nominees came from different sects and belonged to different parts of the country, often speaking different languages, the collective effort made a huge difference in reducing the fear of COVID.
Support for the awards
The journey of these extraordinary stories got support from celebrities and humanitarians. For example, OnlyMyHealth.com and Jagran New Media received support from actor Suneil Shetty, who provided relief in the form of oxygen, food supplies, and more. Additionally, Raghav Juyal of Uttarakhand helped his home state when it was in dire need during the second wave. Actors Bhumi Pednekar and Gurmeet Choudhary also joined hands in spreading hope. The support of our “Reel To Real Superheroes” helped make the HealthCare Heroes Awards a success.
OnlyMyHealth.com received unanimous support from the healthcare community. We had the best and most credible names of vaccine experts, policymakers, healthcare experts, and researchers supporting the initiative. Those who lent their support include: Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya, a physician epidemiologist and COVID vaccines expert; Dr. Nimesh G. Desai, a professor of psychiatry and director of IHBAS – Delhi; Dr. Jaideep Malhotra, MBBS (obstetrics and gynecology), past president of FOGSI; Dr. Vivek Nangia, principal director and head of pulmonology from Max Hospitals; and Saket and Eshanka Wahi, culinary nutrition and holistic wellness coaches.
Also, a part of the esteemed jury was Poonam Mutreja, the executive director of Population Foundation of India, and Grand Master Akshar, a yoga expert and spiritual guru, who were particularly moved by the story of Master Amit from Dharamshala, the youngest and cutest nomination of the HealthCare Heroes Awards. Digging into the story of Master Amit, Megha Mamgain (AVP, business head, health and lifestyle) took our judges into how Amit came from a poor family and was struggling to get the right education. Master Amit became a social media star when videos of him started circulating where he was telling the tourists on the roads of Dharamshala to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
His story greatly impacted Mutreja and Grand Master Akshar showed their support in getting Amit the right education and a healthy upbringing.
A celebration of hope
The Healthcare Heroes Awards endeavoured to honour the success stories of individuals and organisations who came forward during the pandemic with the sole purpose of putting an end to the pandemic-led anxiety. With its virtual awards ceremony, OnlyMyHealth.com and Jagran New Media provided a platform to many people brought together with an evening of emotions, hope, cheer, and sense of safety that the COVID heroes are at work in making India stronger again.