New Delhi: Following allegations of delay in distribution, the Center today explained its procedure for allocating foreign medical aid for the Kovid epidemic. Critics have also accused the lack of transparency and red tape. And U.S. Questions were also raised during the White House briefing. The issue was saluted in the Delhi High Court yesterday, with a hospital claiming that as many as 20,000 oxygen concentrators, which are in dire need of medical equipment, were in the possession of the customs department. The government has denied any pendency in the clearance of material relating to Kovid.
Sources told NDTV that there have been 20 flights with foreign aid, including 900 oxygen cylinders, 1,600 concentrators, 1,217 ventilators and life-saving drugs.
But a large number of oxygen oxygen compresses and remedesivir have been stuck on customs for weeks. Officials attributed the delay to “compatibility issues” and logistical issues in delivery.
The government today said that the Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal agency for bringing in fur channels of aid from foreign countries. A committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the NITI Commission to oversee the operations. The process is as follows:
- These consignments are received at the airport by the India Red Cross Society, which gives them to the Customs Agent and Distribution Manager of the Ministry of Health – HLL Lifaker Limited
- The customs department clears the goods on high priority. Customs has waived basic duty and health cess on these items.
- Goods are processed at the airport and transported for delivery by HLL. The process involves reconciling items with lists to check for unfairness.
- Every effort is made to unpack, repeat and send this with the shortest possible turn time. It takes less than a quarter of a day to manage the cycle, including allocation, approval, and dispatch.
- Allocations are made with a view to ensuring proper allocation and the emphasis on third health care facilities.
According to the proceedings of the Ministry of Health, as such grants are limited in quantity, they should be best utilized through allocations in high burden states. About 40 lakh items of 24 different categories have been distributed to 86 institutions in different states, the Center said.
In the first few days, states were covered by AIIMS and other central institutions where the burden of critically ill patients is high. Hospitals run by the central government were also supplemented, including DRDO facilities in and around the National Capital Region.
The main categories of equipment are Bip AP machines, Oxygen (Oxygen Concentrators, Oxygen Cylinders, PSA Oxygen Plants, Pulse Oximeters), Drugs (Flaviperivir and Remdesivir), PPE (Kav rallrs, N-9).