“Mutual understanding, sharing best practices and collaborative spirit between the Centre and States have helped us in our fight against the pandemic”. This was stated by Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as he applauded the remarkable synergy between the Centre and the States today during the Video Conference interaction with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries, and Administrators of eight southern States/UTs (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep) in the presence of Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare. Chief Minister of Puducherry, Shri N Rangaswamy was also present at the meet.
The virtual meeting was held to review the public health preparedness for containment and management of COVID19 and progress of national COVID19 vaccination campaign.State Health Ministers who joined the high level review meeting included Dr. K Sudhakar (Karnataka), Dr. Veena George (Kerala), Shri Ma Subramaniam (Tamil Nadu) and Shri Thanneeru Harish Rao (Telangana). The State Health Ministers unanimously thanked the Union Health Minister for the continuous support of the Union Government and providing them the required doses of COVID vaccination.
Highlighting India’s remarkable first and second dose adult vaccination coverage of 95% and 74% respectively, the Union Health Minister stated that “India’s COVID19 vaccination drive is a global success story, especially for such a populous country like ours”. To give a further boost to the nationwide COVID19 vaccination drive, we have now started the Precaution Dose and the vaccination for the 15-17 yrs age group from this month, he added. He noted that more than the projected requirements of doses of both vaccines were provided to the States and UTs to ensure that there is no let-up in pace of the vaccination drive. He requested the states to accelerate the pace of vaccination of the 15-17 yrs age group and those whose second dose is due.
Stressing the role that tele-consultation and tele-medicine have played in the country to serve the far flung regions and those in home isolation, Dr Mandaviya advised the States to focus on ramping up opening of more tele-consultation centres as part of the Hub and Spoke Model for better public health management. “The tele-consultation centres will help us not only during COVID pandemic but also for non-COVID medical care”, he said. Kerala informed that non-COVID medical care for cancer, diabetes management, mental health etc., were also provided through tele-medicine centres to those in home isolation who could not access the institutional facilities. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka which have shown good progress in eSanjeevani with very large number of tele-consultations were appreciated for their efforts.
The Union Health Minister underlined the importance of sturdy and resilient health infrastructure and the ECRP-II package under which the funds have been provided to states and UTS and need to be utilised before 31st March, 2022. “While some states have expedited effective utilisation of the approved funds for health infra creation, other states may also review the physical and financial progress under ECRP-II and expedite the progress”, he advised the states.
Dr. Mandaviya reiterated that the 5-fold strategy of ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & Adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour’ along with effective surveillance of cases remains crucial for COVID management. States and UTs were advised to keep a close watch on the emerging clusters and hotspots. Those states which have reported lower share of RTPCR in COVID testing were advised to review the same. Adequate and timely testing will help in prompt identification of the infected cases and prevention of a sudden surge, they were advised.
Assuring states of all support from Centre in their efforts for COVID response and management, the Union Health Minister urged them to provide data on time as it will lead to more sturdy and efficient policy making.
Union Minister of State for Health, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar encouraged all the states to fully utilise the ECRP-II funds. She urged the states/UTs to strengthen laboratories, place timely purchase orders of medicines in case of shortages, expedite commissioning of PSA plants and open more teleconsultation centres. She highlighted that tele-consultation will help in treating patients in future and emphasized on the need to give special attention to co-morbid patients.
There was comprehensive and detailed discussion on various aspects of COVID management including regular monitoring of COVID tests, hospital bed occupancy, increasing positivity and active cases, ramping up of hospital infrastructure; increased testing; stringent restrictive measures for breaking the chain of transmission; and stress on COVID Appropriate Behaviour among the masses. Karnataka informed of the 8 war rooms established across 8 regions that were monitored by senior officers. The State Health Minister informed about the augmentation of the medical HR to handle the COVID pandemic. States like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh mentioned about conducting “fever survey” where healthcare workers went door-to-door to monitor residents for fever and SARI/ILI. Telangana highlighted that a hospital bed management system is installed in all public and private hospitals giving real time information on bed availability in hospitals. In addition, a multi-dept group has been created for monitoring households and supporting them with medicines, testing kits etc. These teams visit nearly 40-50 households every day.
Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, Dr. Manohar Agnani, AS (Health Ministry), Shri Lav Agarwal, JS (Health Ministry), Dr. Sujeet Singh, Director, NCDC and senior officials from states and UTs were present in the meeting.