Rajesh Tope says centre must have One-Nation-One-Rate policy for vaccines, facilitate delivery schedule
GN Bureau | June 3, 2021
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope has said that even as the state is in the phase of gradually easing lockdown restrictions, it is already preparing for a possible third wave. Since it is speculated that the next resurgence may target children, the state government has already set up a pediatric Covid task force and put the administration on alert.
“We have alerted the administration to set up pediatric wards. Maharashtra has set up a pediatric task force with best and brightest of brains from pediatrics and started implementing their suggestions,” Tope said.
He was in a live webinar conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, as part of the Visionary Talk series held by public policy and governance analysis platform.
Speaking at length about odds and how the state is handling Covid-19, Tope while speaking on the issue of vaccination said Maharashtra is aggressively preparing to vaccinate its entire population and has kept aside funds for same. “We have the capacity and capabilities to vaccinate 10 lakh people per day. Only issue is that vaccine is not available. More than 2.27 crore people have been vaccinated in Maharashtra so far.”
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The health minister said that the state floated a global tender to source vaccines but none of the responses are up to the mark or complying with the requirements. “Some have not given rates; others have not specified the delivery schedule.”
He appealed to the central government to come out with a policy for vaccine import for states and said, “The centre must have a policy of ‘One Nation, One Rate’ for all states and it must facilitate a delivery schedule. Despite having all available resources due to these issues, we are not able to procure vaccine.”
He said that at the peak of the wave Maharashtra had about 65,000 daily cases but the number has come down to 15,000. “Our recovery rate has increased from 80-85% to 95%. Maharashtra is very transparent with numbers in spite of having the highest numbers of absolute cases and death numbers in the country.”
Tope added that state government collected crores of rupees as fines from people not following Covid appropriate behaviour.
On how the state has handled shortage of oxygen, Tope said every tanker carrying oxygen has been monitored through GPRS and industrial use of oxygen is completely banned. Oxygen nurses have been appointed who are monitoring use of oxygen to stop any wastage and oxygen audit has been done to conserve and save available oxygen. He said the centre also helped Maharashtra providing 300 MT from neighbouring states.
The minister said that using PSA technology, 350 plants have been ordered and 50% are already established and another 50% will come up within a month or two. “We are now self-sufficient for our needs.”
Tope expressed concerns about the rising mucormycosis cases in Maharashtra. As a single patient may require at least a hundred injections, he said the the centre should allot injections as per the number of cases in a state and when Maharashtra has highest numbers of cases it should get injections accordingly.
Responding to a question on augmentation of health infrastructure, especially in the rural side, Tope said that it has been exponentially ramped up.
“Health infrastructure has been exponentially ramped up. During the pandemic, the government has made available 4.5 lakh Covid beds and more than 2 lakh oxygen beds in the state. The government sanctioned a fleet of 1,000 ambulances. 500 are already on roads and the remaining will be on roads in a month or two.”
He added that the government is filling up all the sanctioned posts which had been lying vacant for four-five years as well as increasing the number of beds, equipment, doctors and paramedics in hospitals.
He said Maharashtra is moving in the direction where every district should have its own medical college. He added that in the last four-five months the state cabinet has sanctioned proposals for six new medical colleges. Each medical college will be set up at the cost of Rs 700 crore.”
Tope said that with the government now giving relaxations to districts reporting low numbers and with industries and manufacturing already working to full capacities we are now in the phase of releasing lockdown restrictions. “The lockdown is the key to contain virus,” he added.
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