Cabinet approves US$2bn for COVID-19 response

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved investments to the tune of US$2 billion for the “India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package”

April 24, 2020

For immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response, around US$1 billion has been provisioned while the rest has been allocated for medium-term support to be taken up over the coming four years

The leading objectives of the package include emergency measures to slow and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus through the development of diagnostics and dedicated treatment facilities

Additional funds worth US$395.6 million have been released under the package to State/UTs for strengthening existing health facilities such as COVID-19 dedicated hospitals, health centres, etc

COVID-19 has claimed over 240,000 lives between December 2019 and April 2020 with nearly 3.5 million cases in 180 countries. India has reported 42,500 Coronavirus cases and 1,300 deaths

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved investments to the tune of US$2 billion for the “India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package”. The funds sanctioned will be utilized in three phases. For immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response, around US$1 billion has been provisioned while the rest has been allocated for medium-term support to be taken up on a mission mode approach over the coming four years.

The leading objectives of the package include emergency measures to slow and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus through the development of diagnostics and dedicated treatment facilities. It involves centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for the treatment of infected patients. The package also aims to strengthen and build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks.

The initiatives taken under Phase 1 of the package include:

  • Additional funds worth US$395.6 million have been released under the package to State/UTs for strengthening existing health facilities such as COVID-19 dedicated hospitals, health centres, etc. 
  • Detailed guidelines, protocols, and advisory for quarantine, isolation, testing, treatment, disease containment, decontamination, social distancing, and surveillance have also been undertaken. Hotspots have been identified and appropriate containment strategies are being implemented.
  • Diagnostics laboratories network has been expanded and testing capacity is increasing every day. Leveraging on the existing multi-disease testing platforms under the National TB Elimination Programme, orders for 1.3 million diagnostic kits have been placed to boost COVID 19 testing.
  • All health workers including Community Health Volunteers (ASHAs) have been covered with insurance under the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19.”
  • To help healthcare workers better tackle the pandemic, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), N95 masks and ventilators, testing kits, and drugs for treatment are being procured centrally.

The major share of the budget will be used for emergency response and to strengthen national and state health systems followed by strengthening pandemic research. Going forward, the Government is also looking to set up laboratories and bolster surveillance activities and biosecurity preparedness, pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities. These steps will be implemented under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The COVID-19 has claimed over 240,000 lives between December 2019 and April 2020 while nearly 3.5 million people have contracted the disease in over 180 countries. During that period India reported around 42,500 Coronavirus cases and 1,300 deaths. The pandemic is expected to cost the global economy as much as US$2 trillion in 2020.