Centre approves Rs 15,000 crore emergency fund to boost fight against Covid-19

The emergency fund is aimed at strengthening healthcare systems. (Representational Image)

New Delhi (NVI): The government today approved a COVID-19 emergency package worth Rs 15,000 crore for states to deal with the pandemic that has claimed 169 lives in the country so far. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country are nearing 5,900 mark.

The funds sanctioned will be utilized for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response (amount of Rs.7774 crores) and rest for medium-term support (1-4 years) to be provided under mission mode approach, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.

“The key objectives of the package include mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COVID-19 dedicated treatment facilities, centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients,” the ministry said.

The other key objectives include strengthening and building resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks, setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, bio-security preparedness, pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities, it added.

“These interventions and initiatives would be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” said an official statement.

The emergency fund will be released in three phases: an immediate one from January to June this year, followed by another from July 2020 to March 2021 and from April 2021 to March 2024, the government said. The immediate package for January to June will be worth Rs 7,774 crore, it said.

The major share of the expenditure will be used for mounting robust emergency response, strengthening National and State health systems. It will be followed by strengthening pandemic research and multi-sector national institutions and platforms for One Health, community engagement and risk communication and implementation, management, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation component, the ministry said.

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, the Health Ministry has been playing a lead role in executing the health sector response with containment and control as key response strategies. A total of 223 labs comprising a network of 157 government & 66 private laboratories are conducting rigorous screening process, the ministry said in a statement, adding that it has already disbursed Rs 4113 Crore to all the States and UTs for dealing with the emergency COVID response.