NEW DELHI, April 22 - The Union Cabinet has approved Rs 15,000 crore for �India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package�.
The funds sanctioned will be utilised in three phases and for immediate COVID-19 emergency response, an amount of Rs. 7,774 crore, has been provisioned and rest for medium-term support (1-4 years) to be provided under mission mode approach.
Official sources said the key objectives of the package include mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COVID-dedicatcd treatment facilities, centralised procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, strengthen and build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks, setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, bio-security preparedness, pandemic research. These interventions and initiatives would be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In Phase 1, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with the support of all the other line ministries has already undertaken several activities. Additional funds to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore have been released under the package to the States for strengthening of existing health facilities.
Hotspots have been identified and appropriate containment strategies are being implemented. Diagnostic laboratories network has been expanded. �In fact, leveraging on the existing multi-disease testing platforms under National TB Elimination Programme, orders for procurement of 13 lakh diagnostic kits have been placed to augment COVID-19 testing,� said sources.
All health workers, including Community Health Volunteers (ASHAs) have been covered with insurance under the �Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers fighting COVID-19�. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), N95 masks and ventilators, testing kits and drugs for treatment are being procured centrally.
The major share of the expenditure will be used for mounting robust emergency response, strengthening National and State health systems followed by strengthening pandemic research and multi-sector national institutions and platforms for One-Health, community engagement and risk communications and implementation, management, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation component. Minister of Health and Family Welfare has been authorised to re-appropriate resources among components of the package and among the various implementation agencies (National Health Mission, Central Procurement, Railways, Department of Health Research ICMR and National Centre for Disease Control as per the evolving emergent situation.