Centre's Rs 23,220 Crore Public Health Push With Focus On Children

Increased availability of ICU beds, oxygen-supply at central, district and sub-district level will be ensured, the government has said.

Nirmala Sitharaman today addressed reporters and elaborated new measures. (File)

New Delhi:

In a renewed push for India's public healthcare sector with a focus on children, the government today announced a fresh allocation of Rs 23,220 crore.

The new measures - one of the many big announcements made by the Finance Ministry today - will be focused on "short-term emergency preparedness with a special emphasis on children and paediatric care." 

The fresh allocation, which has been earmarked for one year, comes amid concerns over a third Covid wave, which many are worried may hit children.

Increased availability of ICU beds, oxygen-supply at central, district and sub-district levels will be ensured, the government has said. 

"This will include HR augmentation to rope in medical students, nurses; strengthening of infrastructure like ICU beds, ambulances, supply of medical oxygen, equipment, medicines," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"Adequate availability of equipment, access to tele-consultation and ambulance services" will also be ensured, along with "enhanced testing capacity and strengthened capacity for surveillance and genome-sequencing".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the move, tweeting, "Measures announced by FM @nsitharaman today will enhance public health facilities, especially in under-served areas, boost private investment in medical infrastructure and augment critical human resources. Special focus is on strengthening healthcare facilities for our children."

Ms Sitharaman today announced eight major economic relief measures. "Four are absolutely new, and one is specific to the health infrastructure," she told media this afternoon as the televised address began.

Rs 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for coronavirus-hit sectors, Rs 50,000 crores coverage for health sector, aimed at upscaling medical infrastructure "targeting underserved areas", and Rs 60,000 crores for other sectors were among the big announcements.

To give a boost to the tourism sector, the government will provide free visas to 5 lakh tourists.

Ms Sitharaman said financial support will be provided to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides, travel and tourism stakeholders.