A ₹65,561-crore scheme for pandemic preparedness on the anvil: Harsh Vardhan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 14, 2020

The Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana will focus on pandemic management through investments in research, healthcare and public health infrastructure, says Health Minister

The government is launching a Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana with an allocation of ₹65,561 crore for proactively identifying gaps in dealing with challenges posed by Covid-19-like pandemics, epidemics and disasters in future, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

“An Expenditure Finance Memorandum of ₹65,560.98 crore under Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana is under consideration. This includes investment in research, healthcare and public health infrastructure with particular focus on pandemic management,” the Minister said in a statement on the opening day of Parliament.

Covid situation

Harsh Vardhan, who informed the House about the current Covid situation in the country and the measures taken by the government to deal with the health crisis, said at 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population, India has been able to limit both cases and deaths to one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries.

According to him, 13 States and Union Territories have reported over one lakh cases so far, with Maharashtra having the maximum cases and deaths.

Many of the epidemiological parameters such as mode of transmission, sub-clinical infection, period of virus shedding, and role of immunity are still being researched. Once a person is exposed to the infection, the disease may develop anytime between 1-14 days. “In our country about 92 per cent of the cases are reported to be having mild disease. In only about 5.8 per cent of cases oxygen therapy is required, and the disease may be severe enough to require intensive care in only1.7 per cent cases,” the Minister said.

The Minister said academics, research labs, industry start-ups and non-governmental organisations are working together to find holistic, scientific and technological solutions for Covid-19. These solutions include basic scientific studies on the behaviour, transmission and effects of virus, mathematical modelling of the pandemic, and products such as ventilators, diagnostic kits, vaccines, therapeutics, antiviral coatings, disinfectants, PPEs, masks, mobile testing booths and hospitals, artificial intelligence-based tools, and information dissemination to masses.

Mapping of start-ups

He said a comprehensive mapping of the start-up ecosystem in the country has helped identify over 110 technology start-ups and over 20 industries for commercial production. Support has been extended to them. Similarly, over 150 research projects have been initiated in all areas of virus behaviour.

The Centre has already issued orders to purchase 60,948 ventilators, of which, 32,109 were allocated to States. As on September 11, 30,170 ventilators were delivered to States. Similarly, Harsh Vardhan assured the Members of Parliament that the country is self-sufficient in oxygen and oxygen cylinders. The Health Ministry has already procured and supplied over one lakh oxygen cylinders to various States, he said. It also issued over 10.84 crore hydroxychloroquine tablets to States and UTs.

Similarly, India evacuated a total of 12.69 lakh Indians under Vande Bharat mission till Saturday, according to the Health Minister.

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Published on September 14, 2020
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