NEW DELHI: The enormous pressure of increased healthcare demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the matured public health delivery systems of most developed nations, Union Minister Bharati Pravin Pawar said on Tuesday while listing the steps taken to strengthen India's health sector.
Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Union minister of state for health said her ministry has coordinated and supported states to upgrade and ensure the health infrastructure and requisite logistics to manage the battle against Covid.
Various initiatives have been taken by the government to provide technical guidance and further strengthen the health infrastructure, ensure availability of essentials, including drugs and medical oxygen, to manage the pandemic, she said.
"Health is a state subject. The Government of India is supporting states in their endeavour to manage COVID-19 since the beginning of pandemic and requisite support is being provided to them to enhance preparedness and response capacities against COVID-19 and other public health emergencies," Pawar said.
She said, 'Multiple surges of COVID-19 cases have been noted globally...including India. Even the most developed countries with matured public health delivery systems have been strained and came under enormous pressure due to increased healthcare demand posed due to COVID-9 pandemic."
The minister said the major areas for strengthening include healthcare infrastructure, equipping of health facilities with requisite logistics including drugs, oxygen and equipment, strengthening of disease surveillance at points of entry and in the community, enhancement of laboratory capacities, telemedicine and enhancement of HR capacities.
"The Ministry of Health continues to provide technical guidance for managing various aspects of COVID-19 and so far more than 150 guidelines/advisories/ SoPs/ plans have been provided to states and Union Territories." Guidelines on Clinical management of COVID-19 continues to be updated with emerging scientific evidence.
The treatment protocol for adults was last updated on May 24 and has been widely circulated while the guidelines for the management of COVID-19 in children was issued on June 18.
Guidelines and checklists on prevention and clinical management of mucormycosis were disseminated to all states and Union Territories, Pawar said.
Also, a comprehensive Guidelines for Management of Post-Covid Sequelae was issued on October 21 after consultation with experts to guide doctors on post-COVID-19 complications and their management.
To further provide on-field assistance to the states, 170 multi-disciplinary Central teams comprising epidemiologists, clinicians, microbiologists and senior officials from the ministry have been deployed to 33 states and districts reporting increased trajectory of cases, the minister said.
States are supported in terms of supply of logistics which includes PPE Kits, N-95 masks, ventilators and drugs like hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir, she said.
They have been supported with the supply of oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators. They are also being supported in terms of installation of oxygen concentrator plants/pressure swing adsorption plants.
All the states have been advised to use oxygen rationally, prohibit wasteful usage by strict monitoring, undertake oxygen consumption audits in hospitals, facility-wise/hospital-wise oxygen inventory mapping and advance planning for timely replenishment.
Pawar said COVID-19 vaccine has been made available free of cost for all citizens of the country aged 18 years and above At all government COVID-19 vaccination centres.
Under the 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign for improving the vaccination rate, various initiatives including community awareness campaigning his being taken to ensure mobilisation and counselling of the eligible population, the minister said. Funding support is also being provided to states and UTs through various avenues, she said.
The PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) envisages increased investments in public health and other health reforms to safeguard against future resurgences of COVID-19, if any, and future public health emergencies, the Rajya Sabha was informed.