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Insights into Editorial: Centre sanctions Rs.15,000-crore Covid-19 emergency package for states, UTs

modi_governmentContext:

The government rolled out an India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health system preparedness package for states with an outlay of Rs.15,000 crore.

While Rs.7,774 crore sanctioned so far will be utilized for immediate Covid-19 Emergency Response, rest of the money will be used for medium-term support (1-4 years) under a mission mode approach.

The project will be implemented in three phases between January 2020 to March 2024. Phase -1 will span from January 2020 to June 2021, Phase-2 from July 2020 to March 2021, and Phase-3 from April 2021 to March 2024.

The government had earlier announced a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore to help citizens most affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, India has also started rigorous testing and a total of 223 labs are engaged in the process.

The union health ministry is authorized to re-appropriate resources among components of the package and among the various implementation agencies which are National Health Mission, Central Procurement, Railways, department of Health Research, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), National Centre for Disease Control on the basis of the evolving emergent situations.

Motive of emergency Covid-19 response fund:

  1. Strengthening national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness,
  2. Procurement of essential medical equipment, consumables and drugs.
  3. Strengthening of surveillance activities including setting up of laboratories and bio-security preparedness.

The key activities to be implemented under Phase 1 include support to states and UTs for development of dedicated Covid-19 hospitals, isolation blocks, ICUs with ventilators oxygen supply in hospitals, strengthening of laboratories, hiring of additional human resources and incentives to human resource and community health volunteers

ADB working on $2.2 billion package to support India’s emergency needs:

Asian Development Bank (ADB) is putting together a $2.2 billion package to support India’s COVID-19 response.

This multilateral development bank is also willing to further increase it’s assistance for India if needed.

ADB is committed to supporting India’s emergency needs. ADB has now preparing $2.2 billion in immediate assistance to the health sector and to help alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic on the poor; informal workers; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises; and the financial sector.

ADB assistance for India will be further increased if needed. This multilateral development bank will consider all financing options available with us to meet India’s needs, including emergency assistance, policy-based loans, and budget support to facilitate swift disbursement of ADB funds.

In fact, in this global fight against an unknown enemy, India is helping other countries wage their own battles by working in close coordination with SAARC nations, and providing hydrochloroquine to neighboring countries, Brazil and USA, after catering to its own domestic demand.

Key objectives of the package fully funded by the central government:

  1. Mounting emergency response to slow and limit covid-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and covid-19 dedicated treatment facilities.
  2. Centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, ministry of health and family welfare adding that the funds will also be used to strengthen and build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks.
  3. Setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, bio-security preparedness.
  4. Pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities.
  5. In response to the containment of the coronavirus, in India, as on date, a total of 223 laboratories comprising a network of 157 government and 66 private laboratories are conducting rigorous screening process.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the Nation on 24 March 2020 highlighted that the Central Government has provisioned Rs.15,000 crore for treating coronavirus patients and strengthening the medical infrastructure of the country.

This will allow for rapidly ramping up the number of Corona testing facilities, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Isolation Beds, ICU beds, ventilators and other essential equipment.

Simultaneously, training of medical and paramedical manpower will also be undertaken.

Centre had requested the State Governments to ensure that only healthcare is treated as their first and topmost priority now.

The Health ministry has also asked states and UTs to use the funds for the procurement of personal protective equipment, N-95 masks and ventilators over and above what is being procured and supplied by the central government.

The activities to be undertaken also include disinfection of hospitals, government offices, public utilities and ambulances

Conclusion:

Weakening global economic growth is causing disruptions in India’s trade and manufacturing supply chains, along with the slowdown in tourism and other economic activities.

This is straining the large number of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, and the livelihood of formal and informal laborers across the country.

The policy measures announced by the Government in way forward will provide much-needed relief and stimulus to the most vulnerable people as well as businesses and become a basis for faster recovery.