The government has said a 100 percent centrally-funded five-year scheme worth Rs 15,000 crores was approved to strengthen the national and state-level health system. The initiative has been taken to fight the pandemic situation in the wake of COVID-19 or coronavirus.
As per sources, the “COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package” will be implemented in three phases – from January 2020 to June 2020, from July 2020 to March 2021 and from April 2021 to March 2024. The fund will be divided among all states and union territories.
The scheme aims to boost the development of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, ICU units, and supply of oxygen in medical centers. A circular signed by the Director of the National Health Mission said, “With the objective of emergency COVID-19 response, (a fund has been set up for) strengthening national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness, procurement of essential medical equipment, consumables and drugs and strengthening of surveillance activities, including setting up laboratories and bio-security preparedness.”
The initiative will be also focusing on disinfection of hospitals and government ambulances. Most importantly, this fund will help to purchase the PPE (personal protection equipment) and N-95 face masks. India has reported over 5,700 coronavirus cases so far, including at least 166 deaths.
Over the past few weeks, the outbreak has spread rapidly in the country. Several states in India are scrambling for funds to fight with the situation. Last month, PM Modi announced the 21-day lockdown shutting down all non-essential industries, commercial establishments and manufacturing centres.
The Union Home Ministry released Rs 11,092 crores from the State Disaster Risk Management Fund, this week. India has also received a $1 billion amount in emergency funds from the World Bank. The financial agency said that the funds should be used to “support better screening, contact tracing and laboratory diagnostics” among other expenditures.