Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, joined a virtual meeting of the Regional Director of WHO for South East Asia (SEA) Poonam Khetrapal Singh, with Ministers for Health of the member states of the region. The meet was focused on maintaining essential health services and public health programmes amid the pandemic.

The containment strategy has been successful in that 50 per cent of the cases are from three States and 32 per cent of the rest are from seven States. The spread of the virus thus has been contained, said Harsh Vardhan.

He also said the Defence Research and Development Organisation-built make-shift hospitals capable of housing 1,000 patients, with an additional 100 ICU beds, were built in a record 10 days. In addition, the other activities included training the trainers at the national, State, district and facilities-level, web-based training on ventilator management by AIIMS, New Delhi and mock drill for corona preparedness in all hospitals across country. Telemedicine facilities at AIIMS Delhi helped identify the root causes of mortality and made high-impact interventions possible that significantly curbed the mortality rate from 3.33 per cent on June 18 to 2.11 per cent on August 3, he said.

“India’s proactive and graded multi-level institutional response to Covid made it possible to have very low cases per million and deaths per million in spite of having a high population density and low fractional GDP spending and per capita doctor and hospital bed availability as compared to other developed countries,” he pointed out.

Harsh Vardhan spoke of the telemedicine practice guidelines published on March 25, highlighting how India leveraged technology to provide essential medical services during Covid-19, a web-based National Teleconsultation Service online OPD service (patient to doctor) which has completed 71,865 consultations so far, tele-medicine services (practitioner to practitioner consultation) in 150,000 health and wellness centres, the online training platform iGOT for medical practitioners and skill enhancement of all levels of frontline workers, mobile apps such as Aarogya-Setu and ITIHAS which have aided in checking the spread of infection without obstructing medical care.