By Shalini Bhardwaj
New Delhi [India], January 25 (ANI): Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Health Minister, on Tuesday re-emphasised the need for ramping up testing for Covid-19 as well as its vaccination in the states and UTs.
During the interaction with health ministers of nine states and UTs, who joined the high-level review meeting, Mandaviya urged the states and UTs to timely send the data of Covid-19 testing and vaccination to the Central Government.
He also said that the testing for Coronavirus should be ramped up in the states where it has gone down.
The health minister also asked the participants to ensure that Covid-19 patients in home isolation are efficiently monitored in line with the national guidelines for the treatment of Coronavirus.
"This will ensure that the vulnerable categories of active cases in home isolation get the required medical help in a timely manner," he said.
The Union Health Minister re-emphasised the need for ramping up testing in the states and UTs.
The Omicron-induced third Covid wave peaks have dominant in multiple metros, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) had said that it is in the community transmission stage in India. However, experts have predicted that the cases of COVID-19 will start declining from mid of February.
The states were also reminded to keep a close watch on the emerging Covid clusters and hotspots and monitor the trend of hospitalised cases along with fatalities 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."
India's nationwide vaccination drive was started on January 16, 2021, and so far 162.92 crore vaccine doses have been administered. The country commenced the vaccination drive for children aged between 15-18 years, on January 3 this year under which 4,19,32,411 vaccine doses have been administered.
The Union Health Minister urged states to promote vaccination among the 15-18 years age group and ensure full coverage in the districts that have shown a lower coverage of the first and second doses.
Dr Mandaviya said, "With our past experience, 'Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour' along with monitoring of cases remains crucial for COVID management."
The Union Health Minister also urged the States and UTs to adopt the hub and spoke model for teleconsultation for expert advice on COVID-19.
According to the Union Health Ministry, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya urged the States and UTs to adopt the hub and spoke model and ensure that more and more centres of teleconsultation are opened. This will enable beneficiaries to access expert advice from experts stationed at the district hubs.
He also said that e-Sanjeevani 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.
e-Sanjeevani OPD is a flagship telemedicine platform of the Government, developed by the Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC), Mohali under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). It provides free teleconsultation services to people in need.
"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," Mandaviya said.
"States and UTs need to ensure that these centres work 24X7 and ensure convenience for both the common public and health experts. To ensure a minimum hassle and travelling, such expert advice can be provided at the block levels, secondary or primary health centre levels tool", he added.
Mandaviya also urged the nine States and UTs to review and expedite the implementation of activities under the India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package: Phase-II (ECRP-II package) for strengthening the health infrastructure, an amount of Rs 23,123 Crores which was approved by Union Cabinet in view of the second wave of the pandemic.
"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 also advised to ensure regular updation of availability, occupancy and use of infrastructure like hospital beds, PSA plants, oxygen equipment's on the COVID-19 portal. 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," stated the Union Health Ministry.
The meeting, besides being attended by states' health ministers including Haryana's Anil Vij and Uttarakhan's Dr Dhan Singh Rawat, was also joined by Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, Dr Manohar Agnani, AS (Health Ministry), Arti Ahuja, AS (Health Ministry), Lav Agarwal, JS (Health Ministry), Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director (NCDC), Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS New Delhi. (ANI)