The Narendra Modi government has spent over ₹11,300 crore till date to revamp medical infrastructure in the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the biggest share of the amount allocated to states was bagged by the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Out of the total amount, ₹6,309 has been released to the states and union territories for strengthening their healthcare systems to cut further surge in infections, according to the Union health ministry. Of this, Tamil Nadu received ₹773 crore, the highest among states.
The financial allocation to the states was channelled through the National Health Mission, the ministry informed Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. This does not include the cost of vaccines provided to states and UTs in the first phase of the mammoth vaccination drive planned elaborately with an outlay of ₹35,000 crore in the 2021-22 Union Budget.
Last summer, the government had approved ₹15,000 crore for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ that was set up to fight the pandemic. Till mid-January this year, ₹11,361 crore has been drawn from the Package, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS Health, said in a written reply to a question from CPI MP K. Somaprasad.
The remaining amount is earmarked to meet the spending during the rest of the current financial year.
Biggest Slice to TN
Tamil Nadu was allocated the highest share of ₹773 crore in the released amount of ₹6,309 crore, despite the fact that states Maharashtra and neighbouring were affected more by the pandemic. While Maharashtra received ₹592 crore, Kerala got ₹453 crore. National Capital Delhi received ₹651 crore from the central government.
Out of the ₹11,361 crore drawn from the ‘India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ till January 15, Uttar Pradesh received ₹474 crore. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana too have received significant financial support from this package.
While states and UTs were allocated ₹6,309 crore, the Centre spent the remaining funds on sprucing up facilities at central government hospitals, testing facilities, testing kits and other measures required to flatten the curve and prevent further waves of coronavirus spread.
The central government also provided RT-PCR kits, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, truenat cartridges, Xpert COVID cartridges, RNA extraction kits, viral transport medium, and automated RNA extraction machines, to States and UTs apart from other items like N95 masks, PPE kits, and HCQ tablets that were in short supply last summer.
Significant capacity has been built over the months due to the efforts of the Centre as well as the states and UTs and there’s no pressure on the healthcare infrastructure at this point, said officials of the Union health ministry.
With Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman increasing the allocation for health by 137% to
₹2.23 lakh crore for 2021-22, healthcare infrastructure across India would be strengthened further, they added. And with the launch of ‘made-in-India’ COVID-19 vaccines, the cost of vaccination too is expected to be much lower than that of other countries, while the need for imported items has reduced significantly.
As various countries in South Asia, West Asia, Africa and South America seeking Made-in-India vaccines, the country could become a net exporter of the items required to fight the pandemic.