While different government authorities are toiling to curb the spread of COVID 19 pandemic, Union Government comes up with a strange diktat.
In a circular dated 02 April 2020 to State Governments and Union Territories, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) mandated States and UTs not to purchase the essential medical equipment.
The circular addressed to Health and Family Welfare Department Principal Secretaries of State and UTs also specifies that equipment.
“State Governments/UTs may not go for procurement of crucial medical equipment like PPEs, N95 masks, and Ventilators,” it states.
The circular has been sent at a time when there are already plenty of complaints about the acute shortage of medical equipment from the health workers who are most exposed to the pandemic.
“These should be procured centrally by the Ministry of Health &FW and distributed to the States,” circular added.
To accomplish the procurement states are also demanded to submit the actual required figure of the materials to the MoH&FW.
The circular undersigned by GK Pillai, undersecretary to the Government of India demands State Governments and UTs: “To revisit the actual requirement of crucial medical devices for COVID 19 management like Personal Protection Equipment, N95 masks, and Ventilators to aggregate States’ demand and come up with a specific figure on a rational basis. This would include fortnightly requirement of State for COVID 19 Management.”
According to the latest figure, more than 200 died due to COVID 19 and 6500 cases tested positive so far.
Despite the central government announcement of ‘make or break week’ stepping up a faster diagnosis of possible coronavirus cases, this strange demand may badly affect States’ efforts to control the outbreak, as it slows down with the additional layer of red-ribbon in the process of the distribution of essential medical devices.
Some took to Twitter to criticize the central government’s move as an attempt to politicise by monopolising the process to keep the COVID 19 outbreak under control.
“This will explain that who is doing politics in the times like these,” filmmaker Anurag Kashyap tweeted.
The circular further said that this decision has been taken to ensure the availability of the devices under the Disaster Management Act 2005.
PP Jaseem is a Delhi based journalist