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Health Ministry Uses Ayushman Bharat Scheme In Fight Against COVID-19

With the coronavirus pandemic spreading In India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked National Health Authority (NHA), which manages government’s healthcare scheme Ayushman Bharat, to identify capacities in its empanelled hospitals to admit COVID-19 patients, The Hindu Business Line has reported.

The Ministry has asked the NHA to identify capacities among 19,840 empanelled hospitals under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), commonly known as Ayushman Bharat scheme.

However, not all empanelled hospitals will have the isolation beds or respirator facilities to admit potential coronavirus infected patients, a PMJAY official told the publication. So, they are in the process of shortlisting tertiary care units which are accredited to assist in the process, the official said.

The official further said that NHA is also working on finalising rates to include COVID-19 packages in PMJAY.

At present, the healthcare scheme does not have a package for COVID-19. “We are charting out expenses for isolating patients and giving them ICU care,” the official said.

The ministry is also consulting with the private sector and non-profit hospitals across the country to ramp up facilities in the wake of the coronavirus. The Confederation of Indian Industries has suggested that under-utilised or unoccupied public and private hospitals should be used for COVID-19 quarantine, it said.

The ministry has asked the NITI Aayog and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to study hospital-level preparedness in case India shifts to Stage 3 of community transmission of the virus, the report said.

India has recorded 166 confirmed cases till date, of which 15 have been cured and three have died.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a review meeting on March 18 on containment and management of the novel coronavirus, directing that teams be deputed to regularly inspect and monitor quarantine facilities for ensuring necessary amenities are being provided.

The meeting was attended by senior health ministry officials and, the directors or medical superintendents of central government hospitals such as the Safdurjung Hospital, RML Hospital and AIIMS-Delhi.

In the meeting, the minister directed hospitals to ensure adequate availability of protective gear for all healthcare workers.-Money Control