The new Cabinet has approved a Rs 23,123 crore package to improve health infrastructure, with a particular focus on child care.

New Delhi: The Union cabinet approved a Rs 23,123-crore package for improving health infrastructure to combat COVID-19 on Thursday, as part of which around 2.4 lakh medical beds and 20,000 intensive care units (ICUs) will be built, with a special focus on paediatric care.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the package will be implemented over the next nine months, until March 2022, at a press conference in the national capital following the first meeting of the Union cabinet following its reshuffle on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over the meeting.

According to Mandaviya, this is the second phase of the Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package, as the Central Government previously provided Rs 15,000 crore for the establishment of Covid-dedicated hospitals and health centres across the country.

The Centre would provide Rs 15,000 crore and the states would provide Rs 8,123 crore under the new package, and the plan would be implemented collaboratively across all 736 districts to improve medical infrastructure at primary and district health centres.

He stated that approximately 2.4 lakh standard medical beds and 20,000 intensive care units (ICUs) would be built, with 20% of the beds earmarked specifically for children. The plan, according to the minister, will also include district-level storage facilities for oxygen and medicines.

According to an official statement, states and UTs will be assisted in establishing Paediatric Centres of Excellence in each state and UT (either in medical colleges, state government hospitals, or central hospitals such as AIIMS, INIs, etc.) to provide tele-ICU services, mentoring, and technical assistance to district paediatric units.

It stated that they would be supported in augmenting 20,000 ICU beds in the public healthcare system, 20% of which would be paediatric ICU beds.

The package’s Phase-II includes both central sector (CS) and centrally-sponsored schemes (CSS) components.

According to the statement, support would be provided to central hospitals, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, and other Institutions of National Importance under DoHFW for the repurposing of 6,688 beds for COVID-19 management under the central sector components.

The National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) would be strengthened by providing genome sequencing machines, as well as sanctioning a scientific control room, epidemic intelligence services (EIS), and other assistance, according to the announcement.

According to the statement, support would be provided for the implementation of the Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) in all district hospitals across the country (currently, it is only in 310 DHs).

All district hospitals would use NIC-developed e-Hospital and CDAC-developed E-Shushrut software to implement HMIS. According to the statement, this will be the most significant impetus for implementing the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) at the DHs.

The national architecture of the eSanjeevani tele-consultation platform would also be expanded to provide up to 5 lakh tele-consultations per day, up from the current 50,000, according to the statement.

Support would also be provided for IT interventions such as strengthening the DoHFW’s Central War Room, the COVID-19 Portal, the 1075 COVID help lines, and the Co-WIN platform, according to the statement.

Under the CSS components, efforts are being made to strengthen district and sub-district capacity in order to respond to the pandemic in an effective and timely manner.

States and UTs would be assisted in providing care closer to the community as a result of COVID-19 ingress in rural, peri-urban, and tribal areas by constructing pre-fabricated structures for adding additional beds at existing CHCs, PHCs, and SHCs (6-20 bedded units), and support would also be provided to establish larger field hospitals (50-100 bedded units) depending on the needs at tier-II or tier-III.

According to the statement, they would be given assistance in installing 1,050 liquid medical oxygen storage tanks with medical gas pipeline system (MGPS), with the goal of supporting at least one such unit per district and supplementing the existing feet of ambulances.

According to the package, up to 8,800 ambulances will be added.

Undergraduate and postgraduate medical interns, as well as final-year MMBS, BSc, and GNM nursing students, would be employed for effective Covid management, according to the statement.

When the country was confronted with the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the PM announced a Rs. 15,000 crore Central Sector Scheme known as the ‘India COVID 19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package,’ according to the statement.

The country has been experiencing a second wave since mid-February 2021, with spread into rural, peri-urban, and tribal areas, according to the statement.

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