Amid the second wave of COVID-19, more than 40 lakh different items have been received in the form of aid from foreign countries. These have been distributed to 38 institutions and hospitals, which are mostly run by the Central government in 31 States and Union Territories. This is the first in 17 years that the government has decided to accept foreign aid.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs Emergency aid in the form of Oxygen continues to come in from various countries. As has been reported by the Financial Express Online, the first shipment of 7 tankers with 20 metric ton Liquid Medical Oxygen have already reached the Mundra port in Gujarat from United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Also, the IAF Transport Aircraft has ferried 450 oxygen cylinders to Chennai from the UK. Medical equipment, 545 oxygen concentrators, and medicines have arrived from the US.
A shipment from Kuwait arrived in India with 282 oxygen cylinders, 60 oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other medical supplies.
What items are coming in?
There are 24 different categories of items that have been coming from foreign countries and these are: O2 Concentrators, BiPAP machines, O2 Cylinders, PSA Oxygen plants, pulse oximeters, PPE coveralls, N-95 masks and gowns. And drugs including: Flaviparivir and Remdesivir.
As has been reported earlier in Financial Express Online, the Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal agency which is looking at the offers made by foreign countries and is coordinating with all the Missions and Posts overseas. And, the MEA has its own set of SOPs which are applicable across the board.
Indian Red Cross Society
All the aid that is arriving in India coming as donations from foreign countries is received by the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS).
A cell was created on April 26, 2021, under Addl. Secretary [Health], MoHFW and is going to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign COVID relief material as grants, aid and donations. There are officials from related ministries including the MEA. They meet daily virtually and sort out all pending issues.
There is also a high level committee under CEO, NITI Aayog, which has Secretary Expenditure, MEA and officials of Niti Aayog and MoHFW and they oversee the whole operation.
For faster customs and regulatory clearances at the airports, IRCS issues the necessary certificates immediately to HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL), which is the customs agent for IRCS, and is additionally the distribution manager for MoHFW.
IRCS also helps in ensuring liaison with MoHFW and HLL. This is done to make sure there are no delays and there are quick turnarounds.
Distribution of the aid received
According to a detailed statement issued by the Health Ministry, the allocations are done keeping in mind equitable distribution and the load on tertiary health care facilities. Besides, the Central Government Hospitals, including Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) facilities in and around Delhi and in the NCR region are also supplemented through the aid.
Out of the eight hospitals in Delhi, six that received the aid sent from foreign countries are run by the Central government. And these are: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, DRDO, National Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases, The Lady Hardinge Medical College, Safdarjung Hospital, and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
In addition, two other hospitals in Delhi and a hospital run by the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in Noida have also received such aid.
The States and UTs are also in the process of receiving the items which have arrived from overseas. These include: Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, D&N Haveli, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Odisha, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.