Health Ministry set to get ADB aid to upgrade its COVID ‘war room’

The ₹18.3 cr assistance will be utilized for technical help for COVID management functions, says Ministry

A COVID war room in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

The government will seek financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank to update the ‘Covid war room’ in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare being currently run by seven private firms.

“The additional support amounting to $2.5 million (around ₹18.31 crore) under RETA… The Ministry of Health has proposed utilising the same for technical assistance for Covid management functions. ADB has been requested to assist the ministry and select entities having technical expertise who can assign the work at a short notice,” said the Health Ministry in response to an RTI application filed by ThePrint.

The RETA is ADB’s regional technical assistance programme available to some eligible countries. But in this case, the money is supposed to be specifically used for Covid-related work, senior officials in the ministry were quoted as saying.

The Ministry has also asked the ADB to help select other organizations with technical expertise that can help in analysis and data visualization on Covid.

The Covid ‘war room’ on the first floor of Nirman Bhawan in Delhi houses the ministry is the nerve centre of the analysis and projections being done on the daily, weekly and monthly status of the pandemic in the country. It has access to state, district and facility-level data from across the country.

It is being run by seven private companies: Cisco Systems India Pvt Ltd, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, Red Swan Labs, Urban Clap Technologies India Pvt Ltd, Boston Consulting Group, Primus Partners Pvt Ltd, and UChicago.

Related news: With 42.04 lakh cases, India becomes second-most COVID-affected nation

Health ministry officials said there are plans to procure a data visualisation software for the ‘war room’. “There is software called Tableau that costs around Rs 2 crore. We are planning to procure that,” said a Health Ministry official.

The health ministry had started a helpline to guide people through their doubts about the disease and the logistics of testing etc., including who does or does not need to test. The helpline number was 011-23978046, and there was also a toll free call centre on 1075.

The ministry had started a helpline to guide people about their doubts on the disease and the logistics of testing, including who needs to test. The helpline number was 011-23978046, and there was also a toll-free call centre on 1075.

These helplines were managed by the National Health Authority, an autonomous body under the Health Ministry, which is the implementing agency for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), the secondary and tertiary care arm of Ayushman Bharat.

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