Member Parliament from Patiala Preneet Kaur on wednesday in Lok Sabha sought Rs. 200 crore from Centre for effective Covid management in Punjab.

 While speaking in the Lok Sabha during discussion on the allocation proposed in Budget Estimates (BE) for the Department of Health & Family Welfare for 2021-22, she requested the ministry to release these funds forthwith, as she said that Punjab is currently in the midst of witnessing a second surge in Covid cases.

The Patiala MP also requested the Health Minister to sanction a Medical College in Gurdaspur (which is a border district) under the Centre government’s scheme where eligible District Hospitals are upgraded as Medical Colleges. She also requested the ministry to provide a Genome Sequencing Lab in the State so that the respective strains of the virus may be able to be identified.

Underscoring the need for Centre to allocate more funds to the states to fight pandemic, the Patiala MP said that, “Even though the proposed allocation at Rs. 71,269 crore is 9% higher over the current year’s BE, it is actually 9.6% lower than the Revised Estimates (RE) of the current year which stand at Rs. 78,866 crore.”

Addressing the House, she stated that the 4% increase proposed in outlay of the National Health Mission is grossly inadequate.

Highlighting the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, the Member of Parliament emphasised on the need to increase the reach of the Scheme from the present 10 crore families.

Preneet Kaur also highlighted the need to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for the large numbers of poor and lower-income groups who may not be covered as per Socio-Economic Caste Census data but can be considered hardly well-off to afford expensive healthcare.

Raising concerns over the spread of the virus and the poor state of health infrastructure in the country, she placed a few suggestions for consideration before the House. She stated that “a concerted effort must be made to augment primary healthcare facilities – so that preventive healthcare can improve.”

Further, she emphasized the need to improve the curative facilities in secondary and tertiary care hospitals in government sector through a special mission-mode project over the next 1-2 years with the Centre and States jointly sharing the funds allocation.

The Member of Parliament dedicatedly urged the House to work collectively “even if it means tightening our belt elsewhere”. She further stated that, the Centre must take the lead so that States may also follow suit. 

She also requested the Ministry to review the current vaccination strategy to include vulnerable groups such as school and college teachers, bus drivers, journalists, judicial magistrates, workers in markets among others.

MP Patiala stressed on the need for States to be allowed greater flexibility in devising local strategies while broadly adhering to GoI guidelines.

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