Newly appointed Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday announced a Rs 23,000-crore emergency package to fight the coronavirus pandemic, adding that it will be jointly implemented by the Centre and the states.
“This scheme aims to accelerate health system preparedness for immediate responsiveness for early prevention, detection and management, with the focus on health infrastructure development including for Paediatric Care and with measurable outcomes," said a government statement.
Speaking on the need to help state governments in the collective fight against the pandemic, the health minister said, “We have to collectively fight against Covid. The limitation period is maximum (9 months). We have to get it done quickly. State governments will have to do it quickly. Our duty is to help the state in every possible way."
The package has the provisions to create pediatric units in all 736 districts and establish Pediatric Centre of Excellence in each State/UT. It also has a provision for providing Tele-ICU services, mentoring and technical hand-holding to the district paediatric units, besides augmenting 20,000 ICU beds in public healthcare system out of which 20% will be pediatric ICU beds.
The package will also give flexible support to the districts for meeting the requirement of essential medicines for coronavirus management, including creation of buffer stock.
Addressing concerns about the predicted third wave, Mandaviya said, “Pediatric care centers will be formed in 736 districts, 20,000 ICU beds will be created under the Covid relief fund."
All these announcements were made after the first meeting of the new cabinet held today.
Mandaviya, a BJP leader from Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, replaced Dr Harsh Vardhan, who was dropped from the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. Mandaviya was elevated to Cabinet rank from minister of state (MoS). He was holding the independent charge of the Shipping Ministry and was MoS for the Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry.