Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the Centre has initiated a series of actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus and that it is now taking up the vaccination drive in a big way.
Vardhan's remarks came a day after India's drug regulator approved the restricted use of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.
While virtually addressing the 32nd convocation ceremony of Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (SRIHER), Vardhan said the pandemic bore testimony to the government’s contribution in ensuring adequate healthcare-- both Intensive Care and otherwise. He also called for a powerful societal commitment to overcome the barriers imposed by the pandemic.
"The Centre has initiated a series of actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Prime Minister interacted with the Chief Ministers of all states and union territories and all stakeholders to regularly keep track of issues and collaborate with them for effective Covid management," Vardhan said.
Claiming that Covid-19 has turned the clock back by many years, he said the deadly virus has derailed decade’s worth of efforts and diverted scientific attention, adding, the lockdowns raised insurmountable barriers, interrupted supply chains, diversion of manufacturing capacity and imposed many roadblocks.
This year, the Centre has already increased spending on healthcare and the Finance Commission has projected a massive increase in the health outlay in the next five years.
This period needed strategised thinking, thought leadership and disruptive social entrepreneurship besides mass mobilisation, aggressive campaigns, powerful partners and deep commitments, the minister said. "And most of all, it needs a powerful societal commitment. Doctors are the backbone of any society. If our doctors are committed, then many things will automatically fall into place," he said.
Listing out the government’s initiatives, the minister said telemedicine has been widely promoted to ensure accessibility of quality treatment for both Covid and non-Covid health issues in far-flung areas.
He said eSanjeevani, a web-based comprehensive telemedicine solution, is being utilised in 23 states with over 11 lakh teleconsultations held on the platform till date.
To improve the nation’s health, the world’s largest health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat was launched to create 1.50 lakh health and wellness centres by upgrading sub health centres and rural and urban primary health centres, he added.
Around 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families have been identified for a health cover of Rs five lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation, the minister said.
The number of people covered under health insurance has to drastically increase from the present 8-10 percent, he added.
"There is a lot of scope for medical professionals to innovate and improvise to facilitate the PM’s dream of Atma Nirbhar India and Make in India concepts through research and development Initiatives," Vardhan said and saluted the frontline health workers and all those who supported patient- care during the pandemic risking their own lives.
He complimented SRIHER for providing a separate block for Covid patients and for conducting ICMR vaccine trials and serving as a testing centre since April 2020.