NEW DELHI: The Centre has distributed nearly 24 different categories of items totalling around 40 lakh pieces of Covid-19 relief material received from foreign countries to 38 institutions in different states and Union Territories.
The distribution to states is based on a standard operating procedure set in place by the health ministry. The allocation is being done to states with a high caseload and where requirement of equipment such as BiPAP machines, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, PSA oxygen plants, pulse oximeters, Flaviparivir, Remdesivir, PPE and masks are high.
The allocations are also done keeping in mind equitable distribution and load on tertiary health care facilities. In the first few days, the states were covered through AIIMS and other central institutions where critical care patient load is high and the need highest. Besides, the central government hospitals, including DRDO facilities in and around Delhi and in the NCR region were also supplemented through the aid, a government statement said while detailing the entire operation of distributing the relief material to states and UTs.
The distribution strategy is intended to improve transparency. The ministry of external affairs is the nodal agency for channeling offers of help from foreign countries and coordinates with missions abroad. The MEA has issued its own standard operating procedures which are applicable across the board. The processing of aid has to be quick as some of it is perishable and needs storing and government said the process of tallying items, opening the packaging and repackaging sometimes needs to be done in a quarter of a day.
Apart from this, a high-level committee under CEO, Niti Aayog and comprising secretary expenditure, MEA and officials of Niti Aayog and health ministry has also been formed to oversee the whole operation. State run logistics firm Concor is being used to move the relief material to states.
Niti Aayog has also set up a control room and digital dashboard to monitor the distribution of relief material received from private sector, associations, industries and other entities. It monitors the process right down to the end beneficiary and is managed by officers from the government think tank.
The medical items started coming in as donations from different countries after the sharp and sudden surge in Covid cases in the country and were channeled through the ministry of external affairs.
A cell was set up in the ministry to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign Covid relief material.This unit started functioning on April 26, and comprises one joint secretary on deputation from ministry of education, two additional secretary level officers from MEA, chief commissioner customs, economic adviser from the ministry of civil aviation, technical, representatives from HLL, two joint secretaries from the health ministry and the secretary general along with representatives from the Indian Red Cross Society.