In the wake of COVID- 19 pandemic, FICCI has been actively engaging with the government to develop a strategy to handle COVID-19, be it screening of suspected cases, preparedness of private labs for testing or identifying isolation beds or buildings for treatment. A strategy paper has been submitted to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GoI.
Praising government’s proactive actions to contain the epidemic, Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI, said, “As the country tightens its watch to delay going into Community Transmission Stage (Stage 3), widespread awareness on personal hygiene, respiratory etiquettes and social distancing and preparing our health system to limit community transmission will be very crucial in the strategy. During several consultations with the Union Health Minister, Health Secretary and NITI Aayog, the private healthcare sector has assured its full support to the government and sharing best practices from across country and globe. A four-pronged strategy on creating mass awareness, testing, training and treatment with private sector partnership is the need of the hour.”
Sensing the criticality of generating mass awareness, FICCI has taken the lead in developing IEC material for hospitals and industry and circulated in early February. It has also reached out to media and entertainment sector to create celebrity videos with appropriate messaging. As WHO declared COVID- 19 as a pandemic, a comprehensive guide for organizations to prepare for COVID- 19 situation has been prepared and circulated widely.
“Appropriate strategy for testing of suspect cases is the most crucial decision that the government needs to take. Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s and ICMR’s move to allow private diagnostic labs to test for COVID-19 is a welcome step. While FICCI has collated a comprehensive list of private laboratories that can adhere to the ICMR SOPs, it has also recommended innovative concepts like drive-through sample collection units,” said Dr Reddy.
On scaling up treatment for COVID- 19, while private hospitals have come forward to allocate dedicated beds, FICCI recommends hospitals with facilities to provide COVID wards with separate entries to reduce risks to other patients should be permitted. Dedicated COVID hospitals being set up in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Fever Clinics by private sector is the way forward. Home healthcare providers can help in setting up Temporary Community Isolation Centers and Transition Care Centers to facilitate out of hospital care. Tele-consultation needs to leverage immediately to treat COVID -19 patients. There is also a need to develop a tech-enabled system for mapping existing resources in the country, including hospital beds and essential lab and medical equipment supply.
“States with robust healthcare systems have exhibited effective response to the outbreak. Kerala effectively deployed its system used to track the contacts of infected persons, a basic public health strategy that was perfected during the Nipah outbreak. However, awareness and preparedness across all states is not at the same level, like the east and north-east region may need additional support. FICCI has urged WHO to help strengthen the dialogue in the east and north-east region through their field offices and engagements with the State governments,” added Dr Reddy
Assuring Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to extend its fullest cooperation through its vast base of 4.5 lakh industry and trade members for his clarion call to observe “Janata Curfew” on March 22 to deal with the Coronavirus, ASSOCHAM today said it would reach out to its rank and file to give top priority to crucial societal and economic issues flagged by the Prime Minister.
” We in the ASSOCHAM through all our trade and industry associations and individual corporate members would actively give the ground level feedback about the impact of the Covid-19 virus to the Economic Response Task Force constituted under the leadership of Finance Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman,” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr Deepak Sood.
He said since the world is fighting an unprecedented health challenge, ” it is imperative that the economic response including the impact and the solutions be reaching the government in a matter of days to enable quick decisions to reduce the human and economic cost of the pandemic”.
The chamber would also impress upon its members to be considerate towards those employees who are not able to make to the offices and ensure that no economic hardship is caused to their families.
Mr Sood expressed the hope that the people would be re-assured by the Prime Minister’s assertion that there is no shortage of essential commodities including the foodgrains, milk and vegetables and citizens should refrain from any panic buying”. The Indian agro and industrial economy has a great inherent strength to ensure adequate supply of essentials, including the medicines to deal with the health emergency.
The ASSOCHAM also joins the Prime Minister in thanking those sections of the society, like doctors, nurses, transport and logistics staff, media and security agencies for rising up to the challenge. The nation would remain indebted for their contribution.