In a significant development, the Centre has approved the 'COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package' worth Rs.15,000 crore. This follows the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on March 24. Even though the scheme is funded entirely by the Centre, it specifically caters to the states and Union Territories. Addressing a press briefing on Thursday, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Aggarwal elaborated on the overall objectives of the package. Currently, there are 5865 confirmed COVID-19 cases in India out of which 478 people have been discharged while 169 individuals have passed away.
Lav Aggarwal remarked, "This is a 100% centrally funded scheme. The Central government will provide support to the state governments in terms of strengthening their health systems, supporting their prevention preparedness exercise, procurement of essential medical equipment, surveillance activities including upgradation of laboratories. Under this scheme, the states can obtain PPEs, N95 masks, ventilators. This fund can also be used for hospital upgradation and hospitals."
Govt. of India has approved 100% Centrally funded 'India #COVID19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package' to support states in the fight against #COVID2019 - JS, @MoHFW_INDIA— PIB India 🇮🇳 #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) April 9, 2020
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This project shall be implemented in three phases- Phase 1 from January 2020 to June 2020, Phase-2 from July 2020 to March 2021 and Phase-3 from April 2021 to March 2024. The Ministry of Health will release funds to the states and Union Territories for the first Emergency Response phase to the tune of Rs.7,774 crore. Using these funds, the state governments have been asked to implement initiatives such as the development of dedicated COVID hospitals, isolation blocks, ICU with ventilators, the oxygen supply in hospitals, strengthening of laboratories and incentivising community health volunteers.
Moreover, they can use the funds to procure N95 masks, PPE, ventilators and testing kits over and above what is supplied by the Centre. Under the aegis of this scheme, the states shall conduct disinfection of hospitals, government buildings, public utilities, ambulances etc. The remaining funds will be provided as medium-term support under the mission mode approach.