COVID-19

Covid-19: Experts want govt to fund vaccine, medicines

NEW DELHI: Health experts, including Niti Aayog member VK Paul and ICMR chief Balram Bhargav, have suggested the establishment of a contingency fund to help meet vaccination and medicine costs in the battle against Covid-19 as the drugs are expected to come with a hefty price tag.
The issue was flagged during a meeting of the high-level group on health sector set up by the 15th finance panel on Thursday. Sources said that the experts suggested a flexible use of the funds to ensure that individuals were not burdened. The details of how the fund will be set up were not immediately available.
The panel has reconvened after the Coronavirus pandemic to assess the impact on government finances and the road ahead. NK Singh, chairman of the 15th finance commission chairman said that health spending would have to go up in the coming years from the current level of around 0.9% of GDP, and FM Nirmala Sitharaman had already announced measures that would strengthen the system.
Bhargav told the meeting that the government was working on a differential peaking time and differentiated fatality time to ensure that the peaking was dispersed. Containment and testing facilities are proposed to be developed at the block level to ensure that cases are contained.
While masks and PPE kits are now available in large numbers, ventilators was an area that the experts identified for a possible ramp up with healthcare professionals to manage the equipment being another area of scarcity. There were suggestions to deploy final year students.
“There is a wide disparity in the availability of health personnel across states and use of technology to address this gap was suggested. The other area of discussion was around how to address the needs of rural areas,” he said.

Source : TOI

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