THD NewsDesk, New Delhi: As Covid cases rose to an unimaginable high since mid-April and the paramount amount of death rates were not getting curtailed, many countries came forward to provide help to India. Planeloads of ventilators, medicine and oxygen equipment landed in the capital of the country last week but it has still not been disbursed and reached the hospitals to help the ailing.
On May 2, while India had reportedly received some 300 tonnes of supplies on 25 flights, according to reports due to irresponsible management and the time-consuming protocol it got delayed.
It came to light that the government of India did not have protocols in place before receiving the aid, and had to quickly come together with guidelines on allocation and coordination.
Once the shipment landed in India, its distribution turned out to be a huge problem. Aid is usually received here by the Indian Red Cross Society, which is responsible for taking it through customs, according to the government’s statement. The shipments are then handed over to another agency, HLL Lifecare, which handles the goods and subsequently transports them across the country. They had to unpack it and repack it since it came from different sources and it further delayed the process.
The government said,
“In many cases, the items received are not as per the list, or the quantities differ, which needs reconciling at the airport.”
The government like always is not accepting the fact that there is a delay. The health ministry said that it had introduced a “streamlined and systematic mechanism” for distributing the supplies. Nearly 4 million donated items, spanning 24 categories, have already been distributed to 38 health care facilities across the country.
Punjab is reported to have received 100 oxygen concentrators and 2,500 doses of the life-saving drug Remdesivir. The air force airlifted the “first batch” of 450 oxygen cylinders from the UK to Chennai (Madras) in southern Tamil Nadu state on Tuesday.
The lack of communication from the central government to the healthcare officials has kept them in complete darkness. Many don’t know when and how will they receive the supplies.
This alleged lack of clarity about the relief distribution effort is raising questions, even in foreign donor countries. On Friday, during a US state department briefing, a reporter demanded “accountability for the US taxpayers’ money” being sent to India. He also asked if the US government was tracking the aid’s whereabouts.
Chhattisgarh health minister T.S. Singh Deo told,
“I had enquired last evening but till then nothing had come… We have no intimation. Maybe the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in (Raipur) Chhattisgarh may have got something, but nothing has come to us. We had asked for 280 ventilators and non-invasive ventilators, nasal cannula, oxygen plants and vaccines. Maybe if something was coming in the aid, they could be included.”
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said even after repeated pleas, they have not heard back anything yet, he asserted
“We are hopeful that if such a large amount of aid has been coming in, it is the right of the state to get the assistance. I hope the Centre will not ignore us, and we will get the required aid which we have been demanding for a long time.”
Transparency is sought on the supplies and their distribution to different states and union territories. Even the countries which have sent the aid is also asking for records, so it’s high time that this mad suffering should come to an end.