India $1.97 bn Covid-19 emergency & health fund

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday told media that the Indian government has approved a 1.96 billion dollar investment package for the COVID-19 emergency response and health system preparedness. The Post facto approval was given to the package at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These funds will be used in three phases, with 1 billion dollars being for immediate use and the rest for medium-term support, that is one to four years. The key objectives of the package include mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19. The plan includes developing diagnostics and COVID-19-dedicated treatment facilities, centralising the procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs, strengthening the healthcare systems nationally and in the States, biosecurity preparedness and pandemic research. The statement said, Phase one of the plan has already been rolled out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with 393.5 million dollars in additional funds being released to the States and the UTs for strengthening facilities. The network of diagnostic laboratories has been expanded and orders for 13 lakh diagnostic kits have been placed. Health workers, including ASHA workers, have been given insurance cover under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.