Centre sanctions Rs.15,000-crore Covid-19 emergency package for states and Union Territories - Editorial

Background Context 

The government initiated an India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health system readiness package for states with an expenditure of ₹ 15,000 crores.

Centre sanctions Rs.15,000-crore Covid-19 emergency package

The sum of ₹ 7,774 crore fund approved by the centre so far will be utilised for immediate Covid-19 Emergency Response throughout India (including all states and UTs), the remainder of the allocated fund to be used over the stretch of medium-term support (approx. 1-4 years) under a guided mission mode technique or approach.

The promising project is planned and mapped to be implemented in three consecutive stages between January 2020 to March 2024.
  • Stage-1: January 2020 to June 2021; 
  • Stage-2: July 2020 to March 2021; 
  • Stage-3: April 2021 to March 2024; 
As preparedness towards COVID-19 outbreak, the Indian government had earlier rolled out a monetary relief fund of ₹ 1.1.7 lakh crore to assist citizens those heavily affected and suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, India has also initiated exhaustive and rigorous testing and a total number of 223 labs throughout the nation has been set up and engaged in the process.

The union health ministry is permitted to direct, re-appropriate resources among the varied components of the monetary package and among the different implementation agencies & establishments as such as…
  • National Health Mission
  • Central Procurement
  • Central and State Railways
  • Department of Health Research 
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
  • National Centre for Disease Control

Centre sanctions Rs.15,000-crore Covid-19 emergency package

Basic Aim of emergency Covid-19 response fund

  1. Hearten the state health systems to support prevention.
  2. Procurement of essential medical gears and supplies, and medicines.
  3. Intensifying the surveillance tasks including establishing the laboratories and bio-security preparedness.
The preliminary activities to be implemented under Stage 1 is to extend support to states and UTs for the establishment of well attended, Covid-19 hospitals, much-needed isolation blocks, ICUs with an adequate number of ventilators, and continuous supply of oxygen in hospitals, scale-up of testing laboratories, hiring of additional human resources (especially related to healthcare and security forces) and incentives to newly appointed human resource and community health volunteers and groups.

ADB’s $2.2 billion funds to strengthen India’s emergency requirement

  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) is preparing the $2.2 billion package disbursement to India in order to strengthen and intensify, India’s COVID-19 responses and its preparedness.
  • Moreover, this multilateral development bank is additionally thinking to further increase its support and assistance for India if required.
  • ADB is committed to strengthening India’s emergency requirements. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has now $2.2 billion assured commitment in immediate assistance, whenever required towards India’s health sector and to assist in measures to avoid the economic impact of the pandemic on the poor masses; informal daily wage workers; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises that fuel India's economic growth; and eventually the financial sector.
  • ADB assured monetary assistance for India are going to be further increased if needed. This multilateral development bank will consider all funding parallels available to meet India’s requirements, including emergency support, policy-based loan funding, and budget support to establish swift disbursement of finances from the Asian Development Bank.
  • Apparently, during this global fight against an unknown and common enemy, India is supporting other countries wage their own fight by facilitating close coordination and support with SAARC nations, and providing medicinal raw material such as hydro chloroquine to neighbouring nations including Brazil and United States, Russia, also taking care of the domestic demand.

Key objectives of the package fully funded by the central government

  1. Implementing a series of emergency response to slow down the speed of pandemic and limit covid-19 in India states, through the development of rapid diagnostics methods, covid-19 testing labs and 24/7 dedicated treatment facility.
  2. Centrally administered, local manufacturing & production and seamless procurement or supply chain management of required medical supplies, disposable PPE kits for the effective treatment of COVID-19 infected patient. The ministry of health and welfare advocates the use of the funds will also be used to build the robust healthcare system to withstand intended preparedness for a future outbreak if any.
  3. Strategically establish labs throughout India and reinforce surveillance and security activities, bio-security preparedness.
  4. Exhaustive research activities relating to the pandemic to identify the risks, full-proof plans and policies to mitigate those identifies risks.
  5. India’s response towards the pandemic and its containment has been moderately successful, as a result, there are 233 laboratories government as well as private conducting exhaustive screening process.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent address to the entire country on 24 March 2020 pinpointed that the Central Government has allocated a sum of ₹ 15,000 crores for treating coronavirus victims and safeguarding the healthcare infrastructure of the country.

This move will enable rapidly ramping up the number of COVID-19 testing laboratories and establishment, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, Isolation wards, specially equipped ICU beds, fully functional ventilators and other essential medical measures and equipment.

Moreover, specialised training of medical and paramedical human resources (medical specialist and trained manpower) also need to be undertaken.

Centre had asked and directed the State Governments to make healthcare to be treated as the topmost priority until the curve is flattened.

The health ministry has asked and directed state governments and Union Territories (UTs) to utilise the allocated funds for the procurement of much needed Personal Protective Equipment's (PPE) such as in 95 masks fully functional ventilators, over and above whatever being recommended and procured by the government.

The community activities that need public and civilian participation, such as disinfection and sensitization of hospitals, government institutions and offices, public utilities such as libraries, parks, community halls & theatres, procurement of ambulances to remote places.

Conclusion

The weakening or feeble world economic process has triggered disruptions in India’s trade with rest of the world, especially the manufacturing and supply chains sector, accompanied by the immediate and direct impact on the slowdown in tourism, other related economic and financial movements.

As a result of this, it largely drained the unprecedented and large number of co-operative, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and loosely coupled institutions, and eventually the livelihood of formal and informal labourers force across the entire nation.

The inflated financial figures and promising measures recently announced by the government sooner or later will provide much-required relief, boost and impulse to the foremost vulnerable individuals and businesses and create the temporary solid groundwork for the fast pace recovery. 

Source: The Hindu

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