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Centre distributes 30 million N95 masks, 12 million PPEs to states

From importing most of its personal protection equipment (PPE) requirements at the start of Covid-19 outbreak in January, India has moved to indigenously manufacture most of the 12.8 million PPE kits and 30 million N95 masks been distributed among states for healthcare workers.

The Union health ministry said in a statement on Thursday that its main role for containing Covid-19 has been in strengthening health infrastructure to fight the pandemic and its effective management.

“Along with augmenting Covid-19 facilities, the Union Government has been providing medical supplies free of cost to the State/UT governments to supplement their efforts. Most of the products supplied by Government of India were not being manufactured in the country in the beginning. The rising global demand due to the pandemic resulted in their scarce availability in the foreign markets,” it said.

With the combined efforts of the ministries of health, textiles and pharmaceuticals, department for promotion of industry and internal trade, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and others, domestic industry was encouraged and facilitated to make and supply essential equipment such as PPE kits, N95 masks, and ventilators.

“Since March 11, 2020, the Union Government has distributed more than 3.04 crore N95 masks and more than 1.28 crore PPE kits to States/UTs/Central Institutions, free of cost…In addition, 22533 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have been delivered to various States/UTs/Central Institutions. The Centre is also ensuring their installation and commissioning,” the statement said.

At least 108 million hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets were distributed as the anti-malaria drug is being given as a prophylactic to prevent infections, and also for treating early cases of Covid-19 that are mildly or pre-symptomatic.

“From a handful of companies initially, the country now has at least about 50-odd domestic manufacturers who are into producing these essential supplies; and we are so comfortable placed in terms of meeting country’s demands that the supplies can now also be exported to other countries. Some automobile manufacturers have also shared their production lines in this hour of need to manufacture ventilators to manage seriously ill Covid-19 patients,” a senior health ministry official in the know of things said on condition of anonymity.

The government is implementing stringent quality standards to ensure no substandard material makes its way into the market.

“There are strict quality standards in place for medical items that need to be complied with. Products that do not meet the quality standards will not be accepted for procurement,” the official added. – Hindustan Times