Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Centre allots COVID-19 global aid supplies to states – Express Healthcare



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Monitoring by senior officers for the pendency of COVID-related imports is being undertaken and handholding to the trade is given for complying with the requirements beforehand

With many countries providing medical equipment, medicines, oxygen concentrators, ventilators etc., to India, the global community has extended a helping hand in supporting the Indian Government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, as the Indian customs become sensitive to the need for availability of COVID-related imports, such goods are given high priority for clearance for processing. Apart from it, nodal officers also get alerts on email for monitoring and clearance.

Monitoring by senior officers for the pendency of COVID-related imports is also being undertaken and handholding to the trade is given for complying with the requirements beforehand.

In addition to faster clearance, Indian customs has waived basic customs duty and health cess on goods identified for fighting COVID. Further, for import of oxygen concentrators for personal use, Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) has been reduced from 28 per cent to 12 per cent.

A cell was created in the Ministry under Additional Secretary (Health), Ministry of Health (MoH) to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign COVID-relief material as grants, aid and donations. This cell started functioning on 26th April, 2021 and comprises one Joint Secretary on deputation from the Ministry of Education, two Additional Secretary-level officers from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Chief Commissioner Customs, Economic Adviser from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Technical Advisor Dte. GHS, Representatives from HLL, two Joint Secretaries from MoHFW and Secretary-General, along with other representatives from Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS).

A high-level committee under CEO, NITI Aayog, along with Secretary Expenditure, MEA and officials of Niti Aayog and MoHFW has also been formed to oversee the whole operation.

The Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal agency for channelising offers of help from foreign countries and coordinates with missions abroad. The MEA has issued its own Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)s which are applicable across the board.

Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS)

For all consignments received via MEA and coming as donations from foreign countries, the consignee is the Indian Red Cross Society. Upon receipt of the papers outlined in the process flow chart, IRCS issues the necessary certificates immediately to HLL for processing customs and regulatory clearances at airports. IRCS also ensures liaison with MoHFW and HLL so that delays are reduced and quick turnarounds are achieved.

HLL/DMA

HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL) is the customs agent for IRCS, and the distribution manager for MoHFW. The consignments are processed at airports and transported for distribution by HLL. In case of consignments arriving at military airports, or bog items like oxygen plants, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) assists HLL.

Accessibility and immediate use of resources to save lives drives the need for immediate allocation of short-notice incoming consignments. The materials from abroad are currently coming in different numbers, specifications and at different times. Hence, there is a need to reconcile the distribution logistics with the need to reach the materials as expeditiously as possible to the states.

Donor countries consignment details get confirmed only after the consignment gets booked in the country of origin. In many cases, the items received are not as per the list, or the quantities differ, which needs reconciling at the airport. The final list gets confirmed after the detailed reconciliation. Thus, it leaves less than a quarter day to manage the cycle including allocation, approval and dispatch. Under these circumstances, since these are time-sensitive supplies, all possible attempts have been made to distribute them immediately and to ensure optimal use in the best possible way. All possible efforts are done to unpack, repack and dispatch these with the least possible turnaround time.

The allocations are done keeping in mind equitable distribution and the load on tertiary healthcare facilities. In the first few days, the states were covered via the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and other central institutions where the critical-care patient load is high and where the need is the highest. Besides, the Central Government hospitals, including DRDO facilities in and around Delhi and in the NCR region were also supplemented through the aid. It has been seen that tertiary healthcare facilities normally have a higher number of cases with severe symptoms of COVID and are often the only succour to people in the region for quality tertiary care.

As per SOP, allocations taken out by the Health Ministry on 2nd May, 2021:

  • Since such grant-in-aid would be limited in quantity, therefore, it has to be optimally utilised by allocating it to high-burden states (states with a higher number of active cases), where the requirement for such equipment/medicines is more.
  • Spreading such grant in aid thinly each time, over a large number of states may not bring forth the desired results. It will also lead to small packages travelling large distances, high turn-around times and possible wastage of resources.
  • The requirement of the high-burden states in the context of a number of persons admitted in hospitals as well as prior distribution done from GOI resources would also be considered. Special focus can also be on states considered as medical hubs of the region, which have a patient in-flow from neighbouring states/cities. In some cases, resource-low states such as North Eastern and hill states where tankers etc., don’t reach, can also be covered to shore up their needs.

Based on the above criteria and principles, 24 different categories of items numbering nearly 40 lakhs have been distributed to 86 institutions in different states.

Major categories of equipment include BiPAP machines, oxygen (oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, PSA oxygen plants, pulse oximeters), drugs (faviparivir and remdesivir), PPE (coveralls, N-95 masks and gowns).

These states/UTs which have either received or where the equipment has been dispatched are :

  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Assam
  • Bihar
  • Chandigarh
  • Chhattisgarh
  • D&N Haveli
  • Delhi
  • Goa
  • Gujarat
  • Haryana
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • J&K
  • Jharkhand
  • Karnataka
  • Kerala
  • Ladakh
  • Lakshadweep
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Maharashtra
  • Manipur
  • Meghalaya
  • Mizoram
  • Odisha
  • Puducherry
  • Punjab
  • Rajasthan
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Telangana
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Uttarakhand
  • West Bengal

As the different tranches are coming in, the rest of the states/UTs will also be covered in the coming days.

The following institutions (region-wise) have received the equipment:

Delhi NCR

  • LHMC, Delhi
  • Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi
  • RML Hospital, Delhi
  • AIIMS, Delhi
  • DRDO, Delhi
  • Two hospitals – one each in Moti Nagar and Pooth Kalan in Delhi
  • NITRD, Delhi
  • ITBP, Noida

North East

  • NEIGRIHMS, Shillong
  • RIMS, Imphal

NORTH

  • AIIMS, Bathinda
  • PGI, Chandigarh
  • DRDO, Dehradun
  • AIIMS, Jhajjar

EAST

  • AIIMS, Rishikesh
  • AIIMS, Rae Bareli
  • AIIMS, Deoghar
  • AIIMS, Raipur
  • AIIMS, Bhubaneswar
  • AIIMS, Patna
  • DRDO, Patna
  • AIIMS, Kalyani
  • DRDO, Varanasi
  • DRDO, Lucknow
  • District Hospital, Pilibhit

WEST

  • AIIMS, Jodhpur
  • DRDO, Dehradun
  • DRDO, Ahmedabad
  • Govt Satellite Hospital, Jaipur

CENTRAL

SOUTH

  • AIIMS, Mangalagiri
  • AIIMS, Bibinagar
  • JIPMER, Puducherry

Central Government and PSU

  • CGHS
  • CRPF
  • SAIL
  • Railways
  • ICM



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