There are plans to set up dedicated Paediatric Care Units in all 736 districts of the country

The Union Health Ministry has stressed the need to ramp-up the Covid-19 testing, tracking, treating and isolating strategy. It has also directed state governments to scale-up bed strength including for paediatric care and makeshift hospitals in sub-district levels.

In a meeting held on Thursday, the ministry reviewed the preparations under the recently approved ₹23,123-crore “India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package: Phase II” with Health Secretaries and senior officials of all States/Union Territories through a video conference.

According to the health ministry, the following objectives of ECRP: Phase-II were reiterated at the review meeting:

* Support the states to establish dedicated Paediatric Care Unit in all 736 districts of the country for Paediatric Covid-19 management

* Support the States to establish Paediatric Centre of Excellence in each State/UT

* Increase the availability of ICU beds including 20% Paediatric ICU beds as per evolving needs.

* Support the states to have 1050 Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Storage Tanks along with Medical Gas Pipeline System (MGPS) (at least one per District)

Phase-II of the Emergency COVID-19 Response Package (ECRP) has Central Sector (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) components.

This scheme aims to accelerate health system preparedness for immediate responsiveness for early prevention, detection and management with sharp focus on health infrastructure development including Paediatric care and with measurable outcomes. This will help in strengthening decentralized public health actions and public health facilities in rural, peri-urban and tribal areas.

“In the meeting stakeholders were also asked to ensure availability of critical drugs, testing kits and PPEs besides enhancing oxygen availability and strengthening home and village/community isolation centres/ COVID care centres,” said the Ministry.

During the review meeting, States/UTs were guided on policies and guidelines from Union Health Ministry on different aspects of COVID management which would help the states/UTs in strengthening their healthcare infrastructure to streamline COVID-19 response.

It said the States and the Union Territories were advised to conduct a quick gap analysis for various infrastructure components.

“The final year MBBS students, UG Interns and PG residents may be utilised under the supervision of the faculty as per the National Medical Commission Guidelines for providing services of mild COVID management through tele-consultation and similarly, final year nursing graduates (BSc and GNM) may be utilised for full-time COVID nursing duties at government facilities under the supervision of senior faculty.”

It was also pointed out that procurement of drugs for effective management is an essential component and that these guidance can be tweaked to local needs. States must come up with their own assessments based on stocks and costs involved.