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Digital Health Gets Big Boost as Cabinet Clears Rs 23,123-Crore Second Covid-19 Emergency Response Package

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The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday approved a Rs 23,123-crore ‘India Covid-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package’. This is the second phase of the package that will be implemented from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 with the central’s and state’s share of the ECRP-II will be Rs 15,000 crore and Rs.8,123 crore respectively.

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The scheme aims to accelerate health system preparedness for immediate responsiveness for early prevention, detection and management focusing on health infrastructure development, including paediatric care and with measurable outcomes.

The second phase of the package has Central Sector (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) components.

Under the Central Sector components, support would be provided to central hospitals, AIIMS, and other Institutions of national Importance under DoHFW (at VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, LHMC & SSKH, Delhi, RML, Delhi, RIMS, Imphal and NEIGRIMS, Shillong, PGIMER, Chandigarh, JIPMER, Puducherry, existing and new AIIMS under PMSSY for repurposing 6,688 beds for Covid management.

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Also, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) would be strengthened by providing genome sequencing machines, besides sanctioning scientific control room, Epidemic Intelligence Services (EIS) and INSACOG Secretariat support.

Besides, support would be provided for the implementation of the Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) in all the district hospitals (DHs) of the country. Presently, it is implemented only in 310 DHs. All district hospitals would implement HMIS through NIC developed E-Hospital and CDAC-developed E-Shushrutsoftwares. This will be the biggest impetus for the implementation of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) at the DHs. This support includes the support provided to the DHs towards the augmentation of the hardware capacity.

Support would also be provided for expanding the National Architecture of eSanjeevani Tele-consultation platform to provide up to 5 lakhs teleconsultations per day from the present 50,000 Tele-consultations per day. This includes support to the States/UTs to enable teleconsultations with the Covid patients at the COVID Care Centres (CCCs) by strengthening Hubs for eSanjeevani Teleconsultation in all the districts of the country. Support would also be provided for IT interventions, including strengthening the Central War room at DoHFW, boosting country’s Covid-19 portal, 1075 Covid helplines and CoWIN platform.

Under the CSS components, the efforts are aimed at strengthening district and sub-district capacity for an effective and rapid response to the pandemic. The states and union territories would be supported to create paediatric units in all 736 districts and establish Paediatric Centre of Excellence (PaediatricCoE) in each state and UT (either in medical colleges, state government hospitals or central hospitals such as AIIMS, INIs), for providing Tele-ICU services, mentoring and technical hand-holding to the district paediatric units.

Also, augment 20,000 ICU beds in public healthcare system out of which 20% will be pediatric ICU beds. Provide care closer to the community due to the ingress of Covid-19 in rural, peri-urban and tribal areas, by creating pre-fabricated structures for adding additional beds at the existing CHCs, PHCs and SHCs (6-20 bedded units) and support would also be provided to establish bigger field hospitals (50-100 bedded units) depending on the needs at tier-II or tier-III cities and district HQs. Install 1050 numbers of liquid medical oxygen storage tanks with Medical Gas Pipeline System (MGPS) to support at least one such unit per district. Augment the existing feet of ambulances – 8,800 ambulances will be added under the package.

Besides, engage undergraduate and postgraduate medical interns and final year MBBS, BSc, and GNM nursing students for effective Covid management. As ‘Test, Isolate and Treat’ and following-up Covid Appropriate Behaviour at all the times is the national strategy for effective Covid-19, support is provided to the states to maintain at least 21.5 lakhs per day. Flexible support to the districts for meeting the requirement of essential medicines for Covid-19 management, including the creation of buffer stock.

In March 2020, when the country was faced with the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, PM Modi announced a Central Sector Scheme of Rs 15,000 crore for the ‘India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package’, providing a critical impetus to the efforts of MoHFW and states and UTs, and catalysing health systems activities for pandemic management. Since mid-February 2021, the country is experiencing a second wave with spread into rural, peri-urban and tribal areas.

In another development, the second edition of Elets Digital Health Conclave will be held on 28 – 29 July 2021 on a virtual 3D platform. Organised by Elets Technomedia Pvt Ltd and co-organised by its flagship eHEALTH, the two-day conclave will be a platform to network and discuss how digital technologies can transform the future of healthcare in India. Register now: https://digitalhealth.eletsonline.com/delegate.html

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