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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Govt to utilise more pvt hospitals to enhance Covid-19 vaccination

  • Private sector has also shown its willingness and intent to support and augment government’s capacity across the value chain of covid-19 vaccine distribution and administration
  • According to the white paper, India may need 1.3 lakh-1.4 lakh vaccination centers, 1.0 lakh healthcare professionals and 2.0 lakh support staff/ volunteers

The government plans to utilise more private hospitals in order to increase the speed and coverage of covid-19 vaccination in India. Currently, over 10,000 hospitals (private and government combined) are being used for administration of covid-19 vaccines. “Out of the 10,000 hospitals that are being used for administering the covid-19 vaccines each day, at least 2,000 hospitals are from private sector," Rajesh Bhushan Union Health Secretary said.

“This shows how essential is the private sector and it plays the role of a force multiplier which is acknowledge by the government. In the coming days, more private sector hospitals will be utilized to increase the vaccination coverage and speed," Bhushan said adding that the private sector is playing a vital role in many of the government’s health programmes.

Outlining the role of private sector in healthcare, Bhushan said that out of the 24,000 hospitals under the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojna which are providing cashless treatment, over 11,000 hospitals are from the private sector being involved for last two years.

“The Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) is also completely based on private sector leaving the dispensaries. More than 800 private hospitals are already a part of CGHS. The private sector has a larger role to play in the nationwide covid-19 vaccination program," said Bhushan.

Private sector has also shown its willingness and intent to support and augment government’s capacity across the value chain of covid-19 vaccine distribution and administration. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for covid-19 (NEGVAC) had met industry representatives in November last year to assess private sector capabilities and capacities for the procurement, distribution, and inoculation of the covid-19 vaccine.

FICCI has submitted a detailed plan outlining what support private sector, including healthcare, can provide, through the FICCI-EY Strategy paper on ‘Protecting India - Public Private Partnership for vaccinating against covid-19’, submitted to NEGVAC In December 2020.

According to the white paper, India may need 1.3 lakh-1.4 lakh vaccination centers, 1.0 lakh healthcare professionals (as inoculators) and 2.0 lakh support staff/ volunteers for mass-inoculation of prioritized individuals (30 crore people as identified by the government, includes healthcare professionals, frontline workers, people above 50 years and also people with co-morbidities) by August 2021 and the entire adult population (80 crore) by the end of 2022.

The white paper further said that to meet the demand of 1.3 lakh-1.4 lakh centers, 60% of the existing public health infrastructure will have to house a vaccination center. Against the requirement of 1.0 lakh inoculators, the public sector can potentially provide 60,000-70,000 (10% of the nurse/ANM capacity in public sector) of them. This could lead to a capacity constraint especially in key states such as Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

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