London [UK], May 5 (ANI): Amid India's effort to combat the record rise of COVID-19 cases, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar has admitted that the country's healthcare system stands exposed on how since the 75 years of independence, it has "underinvested" in the area of public healthcare.
Addressing a Global Dialogue Series event, Jaishankar said, "Our healthcare system stands exposed, very clear that over 75 years we have underinvested in health. Maybe there were reasons, it's very easy to say you should have put in more money. Now that I'm in government I can tell you it's not as easy as it sounds."
"This isn't a defence of today's situation, I'm saying this for over 75 years. It is that realisation that Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) was pushing for Ayushman Bharat as we had reached a stage where the PM genuinely believed we can't leave people to vagaries of private practitioners, however, good they may be," he added.
The minister said that even though the government has limitations, they have to find some ways by which it can respond to today's crisis.
"But having said that, you have what you have at this point of time which is an under-invested health sector over many decades...In a crisis today, even though I have limitations, I have to make that extra effort, find some way by which I can respond to today's crisis," Jaishankar said.
"If somebody is sick, if somebody is looking for oxygen, if somebody is looking for Remdesivir, they are not going to listen to policy explanation. They want to see practical answers on the ground," he added.
The External Affairs Minister acknowledged that there is an increase in demand for medical oxygen following the sharp rise in cases due to the second wave of the coronavirus.
"There's increase in demand (medical oxygen) and it's my obligation as a government to meet it. I've to move heaven and earth but I've to meet it in some way. We have encouraged businesses to change their production practices to free up industrial oxygen and convert it into medical oxygen," the EAM said.
He further said that the government is giving everything to deal with the pandemic situation in the country. "IAF is picking up empty tanks, flying them back so that we save driving time. It's a difficult crisis but I can tell you we are giving everything we have and more.
"We are running trains so that oxygen comes to population centres as production centres are very distant. We have been trying to purchase tankers from abroad. That is what my Missions are doing, they are looking for cryogenic tanks, for generators, concentrators," he added. (ANI)