Covid-19: Govt to develop paediatric units, set up additional hospital beds amid third-wave warning

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July 09, 2021 11:37 AM

The package pays special focus on children, likely to be most vulnerable to a third wave of the virus, with a provision for paediatric units in all 736 district hospitals under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme component.

Covid-19 package. Mansukh MandaviyaThe govt has targeted accelerating health system preparedness and respond immediately to early prevention, detection, and management. (Picture courtesy: IE)

The Union Cabinet has approved Rs 23,123 crore under Phase II of the government’s Covid-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package amid the pandemic’s second wave. Of the total amount, states will bear Rs 8,000 crore while the remainder will be borne by the Centre. This was the first meeting of the Cabinet following a large-scale reshuffle on Wednesday. The government has targeted accelerating health system preparedness and respond immediately to early prevention, detection, and management.

The package pays special focus on children, likely to be most vulnerable to a third wave of the virus, with a provision for paediatric units in all 736 district hospitals under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme component. An additional 20,000 ICU beds will also be set up, of which 20% will be reserved for children. There is also a provision to add additional hospital beds and establish bigger field hospitals in tier II/III cities and district headquarters.

New Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that the central component would also be used to augment the ambulance fleet and create a buffer stock for essential medicines. The government will also install 1,050 liquid medical oxygen storage tanks with medical gas pipeline system.

It will also extend additional support for IT interventions, including expanding tele-consulting facilities in all districts as well as control rooms and helplines at the state and district level.

The scheme’s Central Sector component includes provisions to repurpose for Covid-19 6,688 beds at AIIMS, central hospitals, and other institutions, IT systems including a Covid-19 portal, and a teleconsultation platform — eSanjeevani. The platform currently provides 50,000 tele-consultations a day at present. The government aims to scale it up to 5 lakh daily consultations. It will also establish an integrated control and command centre and strengthen the CoWin platform and National Centre for Disease Control.

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