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Sushmita Goswami | Jan 31, 2022 | Views 373091

BUDGET 2022: Economic Survey Highlights Agile and Multi-pronged Approach Adopted by India to Combat Covid-19

BUDGET 2022: Economic Survey Highlights Agile and Multi-pronged Approach Adopted by India to Combat Covid-19

According to the Economic Survey, during the last two years, as India and the rest of the world faced the pandemic’s onslaught, the Union Government’s primary focus was on providing a safety net to the most vulnerable segments of society as well as a coordinated response to the pandemic’s health consequences. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, tabled the Economic Survey 2021-22 in Parliament today.

The Economic Survey also emphasizes policy’s ‘agile framework,’ noting that in “an uncertain environment, the agile framework responds by assessing outcomes in short alternations and constantly adjusting incrementally,” as “agile’s flexibility improves responsiveness and aids evolution, but it does not attempt to predict future outcomes.” The Union Government’s response to the global COVID-19 epidemic has been swift, strategic, and proactive.

India’s Health Response to COVID-19:

The Economic Survey states that India, the country with the second largest population and a large elderly population, adopted a multipronged approach to COVID-19 response and management. These included:

  1. Restrictions/partial lockdowns
  2. Building capacity in health infrastructure
  3. COVID-19 appropriate behavior, testing, tracing, treatment, and
  4. Vaccination drive

Containment and buffer zones, perimeter control, contact tracking, isolation and testing of suspicious cases and high-risk contacts, and the establishment of quarantine facilities were all used to break the chain of transmission. Based on real-time data and facts, the preventive plan modified in response to the changing situation. The number of testing facilities in the country has exploded. COVID-19 tests are now available for free at all Government Centers. Rapid Antigen Test Kits were produced to allow for speedier screening. In a mission mode, production capacity for N-95 masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment kits, and sanitizers was increased. The vast infrastructure constructed for isolation beds, dedicated intensive care unit beds, and medical oxygen supply is also highlighted in the survey. To satisfy the exponential increase in medical oxygen demand during the second COVID surge, the government enlisted the help of the railways, the air force, the navy, and industry in a “whole of government” effort.

COVID vaccinations have emerged as the most effective Defence against the corona virus, saving lives and ensuring livelihood.

COVID Vaccination Strategy:

Vaccination, according to the Economic Survey, is not only a health response, but also essential for opening up the economy, particularly in contact-intensive services. As a result, it should be viewed as a macroeconomic indicator for the time being.

According to the survey, “the Liberalized Pricing and Accelerated, National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy” was executed from May 1 to June 20, 2021. COVID-19 vaccine coverage has been extended to the 15-18 year old age group as of January 3, 2022. Furthermore, beginning January 10, 2022, Health Care Workers, Frontline Workers, and people over 60 with co-morbidities will be eligible for a prophylactic dosage of COVID-19 vaccine after completing 9 months or 39 weeks from the date of the second dose.

According to the Economic Survey, India’s National COVID Vaccination Program, which is one of the world’s largest vaccination programmes, has not only supported domestic manufacture of COVID vaccines, but has also provided free vaccines to its population, which is the world’s second largest. In the Union Budget for 2021-22, Rs. 35,000 crore was set out for vaccine procurement as part of the countrywide COVID-19 Vaccination Program. COVID-19 vaccinations were provided in a total of 156.76 crore doses from January 16, 2021 to January 16, 2022, with 90.75 crore first dose and 65.58 crore second dose. The Survey emphasizes that vaccination at this scale and speed has permitted rapid re-establishment of livelihoods.

According to the survey, India is one of the few countries that produces COVID vaccines. The country began with two COVID vaccines made in India. Bharat Biotech International Limited, in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology of the Indian Council of Medical Research, developed and manufactured India’s first domestic COVID-19 vaccine, Whole Virion Inactivated Corona Virus Vaccine (COVAXIN), in line with India’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat (ICMR). Clinical studies of the COVISHIELD vaccine, developed in conjunction with Oxford-AstraZeneca, were financed by the ICMR. In India, the vaccinations COVISHIELD and COVAXIN are frequently used. Around 250-275 million doses of COVISHIELD and 50-60 million doses of COVAXIN are produced each month.

The Arogya Setu smartphone app was established to allow people to assess their risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, making it a technology-driven immunization programme. According to the Economic Survey, Co-WIN 2.0 (along with e-VIN), a unique digital platform, supported real-time vaccination activities such as vaccine registration, tracking COVID-19 vaccine status of every beneficiary, vaccine stocks, storage, actual vaccination process, and generation of digital certificates.

Health Sector Expenditure:

Despite the fact that the pandemic has affected practically all social services, the health sector has been the hardest damaged, according to the Economic Survey. Expenditure on the health sector surged by about 73 percent from Rs. 2.73 lakh crore in 2019-20 (pre-COVID -19) to Rs. 4.72 lakh crore in 2021-22 (BE).

In addition to the National Health Mission, the Union Budget 2021-22 announced the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme with an outlay of about Rs. 64,180 crore over the next five years to develop the capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary health care systems, strengthen existing national institutions, and establish new institutions to cater to the detection and cure of new and emerging diseases. In addition, the Union Budget 2021-22 allocated Rs. 35,000 crore to COVID-19 immunization.

According to the Economic Survey, the National Health Policy of 2017 aims to raise government health spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025. According to the report, budgeted expenditure on health by the federal and state governments reached 2.1 percent of GDP in 2021-22, up from 1.3 percent in 2019-20.

National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5):

According to the Economic Survey, social indicators such as Total Fertility Rate (TFR), Sex Ratio, and health outcome indicators such as Infant Mortality Rate, under-five mortality rate, and institutional birth rate have improved over the year 2015-16. According to the survey, NFHS-5 demonstrates that not only are services reaching the public, but also that the expected outcomes have improved.

At the national level, all child nutrition metrics have improved. The Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) has dropped from 49.7 percent in 2015-16 to 41.9 percent in 2019-21. From 40.7 per 1000 live births in 2015-16 to 35.2 per 1000 live births in 2019-21, the IMR has decreased. The percentage of people who perform stunts has decreased from 38% in 2015-16 to 36% in 2019-21. Also, wasting has decreased from 21% in 2015-16 to 19% in 2019-21. And, from 36 percent in 2015-16 to 32 percent in 2019-21, the percentage of people who are underweight has decreased.

TFR, or the average number of children per woman, has dropped to 2.0 in 2019-21 from 2.2 in 2015-16, according to the latest NFHS-5 data. According to the survey, the TFR has fallen below the country’s replacement fertility threshold (2.1 children per woman).

The sex ratio in the whole population has increased from 991 females per 1000 males in 2015-16 (NFHS-4) to 1020 females in 2019-20. (NFHS-5). More crucially, in the recent five years, the sex ratio and birth female children per 1000 male children born has increased from 919 in 2015-16 to 929 in 2019-21.

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