Amid massive backlash over its handling of foreign Covid-related aid, the Centre on Thursday said that all medicines and equipment donated to India as of May 5 have been distributed to states and Union Territories.
Elaborating further, the Union health ministry said that this aid included ,841 oxygen concentrators, 1,814 oxygen cylinders, nine oxygen generation plants and more than 2.8 lakh Remdesivir vials.
The development comes just a day after the Delhi High Court rapped the Centre and asked it to immediately distribute all medical equipment and aid to the states, Union Territories and voluntary organisations like Gurdwaras and NGOs, who are rendering public service.
"One must not forget that the equipment received as foreign aid is meant for the people and, therefore, should be available to them. No purpose would be served by them remaining stacked in boxes in some institution and not being available for use where they are most required,” a Delhi HC bench had noted on Wednesday.
Soon after the HC order, the health ministry issued a statement saying, "All items received up to 5th May 2021 have been effectively allocated and promptly dispatched to the states/institutions. This is an ongoing exercise.”
It said the Empowered Group No 3 met Thursday under the chairmanship of NITI CEO Amitabh Kant to discuss ways and means of expediting the distribution of material aid received from abroad.
The meeting was attended by Union Secretary (I&B) Amit Khare, Union Secretary (Expenditure) Dr T V Somanathan, Additional secretary (MEA) Shrir Dammu Ravi, and Additional Secretary (Health) Arti Ahuja.
Additional Secretary (MEA) told the meeting that as and when they come to know about the relief material leaving offshores, the information is sent to the Union Health Ministry which then works out the distribution plan.
Additional Secretary (Health Ministry) said the distribution plans of material received from abroad are already in place by the time it lands in India.
The Centre has been receiving international donations and aid of Covid-19 relief medical supplies and equipment since April 27 from different countries/organisations, the ministry said.
The ministry said, "1841 Oxygen Concentrators; 1814 Oxygen Cylinders, 09 Oxygen Generation Plants; 2403 ventilators/ Bi PAP/ C PAP; more than 2.8 L Remdesivir vials delivered so far."
On receiving the consignment of Covid-19 equipment as part of international aid, Dr N N Mathur of Delhi's LHMC Hospital said, "The equipment has already been deployed in the hospital."
The Centre has designed a streamlined and systematic mechanism for effective allocation and distribution of the support supplies received, the health ministry statement said.
A dedicated Coordination Cell has been created in the Health Ministry to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign COVID relief material as grants, aid and donations which started functioning from April 26, it said.
A Standard Operating Procedure has been framed and implemented by the Health Ministry since May 2, the statement said.
It said the cargo clearance and deliveries are facilitated without delay in coordination with various agencies and it is being comprehensively monitored by the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis.
This will help to supplement the medical infrastructure of the tertiary care institutions and 31 states and UTs, and strengthen their clinical management capacities for prompt and effective clinical management of the hospitalised Covid-19 patients, the statement said.
The major items received till May 5 include, ventilator/Bi PAP/C PAP (1,056) Oxygen Concentrator (43) from Australia, RDK (40,300), Remdesivir (about 1.56 lakh) and PPE kits and additional other items from the USA, and Liquid Oxygen Container (02) from Bahrain, it said.
(With PTI inputs)