“In view of a substantial number of Active Cases across the country recuperating from COVID19 in home isolation, it is important to focus on expanding the reach of tele-consultation services for providing timely quality healthcare to the beneficiaries”. This was stated by Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare today as he interacted with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries, and Administrators of nine states/UTs (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, Ladakh and Uttar Pradesh) in the presence of Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog. He urged the States and UTs to adopt the hub and spoke model and ensure that more and more centre of tele-consultation are opened. This will enable beneficiaries to access expert advice from experts stationed at the district hubs. He added that eSanjeevani has been able to provide services to more than 2.6 crore beneficiaries where people can seek medical advice from the confines of their homes. “This will prove to be a game-changer and will be of immense value and importance for the hard-to-reach and far flung areas, and especially in the northern regions in the current winter season”, he highlighted. “States/UTs need to ensure that these centres work 24X7 and ensure convenience for both the common public and health experts. To ensure minimum hassle and travelling, such expert advice can be provided at the block levels, secondary or primary health centre levels too”, he stated. He advised states and UTs to ensure that those in home isolation are efficiently monitored in line with the National Guidelines. This will ensure that the vulnerable categories of active cases in home isolation get the required medical help in a timely manner.
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 Shri Anil Vij (Haryana) and Dr. Dhan Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand). The State Health Ministers expressed their gratitude to the Union Health Minister for the continued support from the Centre in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reiterating that the Centre is dedicated to supporting States/UTs in containment and management of COVID-19, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya requested the 9 States and UTs to review and expedite implementation of activities under ECRP-II package for strengthening the health infrastructure. He urged the Health Ministers and the State authorities to plug the existing gaps by efficiently utilizing the amount sanctioned for various infra projects. “With strengthened health infrastructure, we can meet any health emergency and public health crisis with better preparedness”, he said. States were advised to ensure regular updation of availability, occupancy and use of infrastructure like hospital beds, PSA plants, oxygen equipments on the COVID-19 portal- https://covid19.nhp.gov.in/. It was noted that this updation would help in obtaining a bigger picture and taking data-driven decisions at several levels for efficient public health response.
The Union Health Minister re-emphasised the need for ramping up testing in the states and UTs. Those states/UTs that are showing a lower share of RTPCR testing were requested to ramp up tests through RTPCR. States and UTs were also reminded to keep a close watch on the emerging clusters and hotspots and monitor the trend of hospitalised cases along with the deaths in the state.
Dr Mandaviya stressed that “Vaccination remains a potent tool to fight COVID-19. Vaccinated people are less prone to severity and hospitalisation as seen in India and globally. Higher hospitalisation is being seen in unvaccinated people and hence it becomes crucial to vaccinate the unvaccinated.” He also requested States to promote vaccination among 15-18 yrs age group and ensure full coverage in the districts that have shown a lower coverage of the first and second doses.
Dr. Mandaviya said that with our past experience, ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & Adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour’ along with monitoring of cases remains crucial for COVID management.
Union Minister of State for Health, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar stressed on the need for vigilance and alertness during the ongoing upsurge. She urged the states/UTs to ensure availability of essential medicines for any evolving situation and ensure timely purchase orders in case of shortages.
The States and UTs shared a snapshot of activities being undertaken for COVID management and best practices for COVID management in addition to trend of COVID trajectory, hospitalisation, bed occupancy, testing and vaccination data. States like Uttar Pradesh mentioned about the Nigrani Samitis for door-to-door monitoring of those in home isolation. UT of Ladakh is providing medicines, nutrition supplements, and immunity boosters to patients in home isolation.
Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, Dr. Manohar Agnani, AS (Health Ministry), Smt. Arti Ahuja, AS (Health Ministry), Shri Lav Agarwal, JS (Health Ministry), Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director (NCDC), Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS New Delhi, and senior officials from states were present in the meeting.