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Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh reviews healthcare facilities in “Aspirational” districts.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh reviewed the COVID status and healthcare facility in “Aspirational” districts with special focus on North East. He also disclosed that in the wake of COVID pandemic, the Ministry of North East (DoNER) has decided to sanction Rs.190 crore for augmentation of healthcare facility in the eight North Eastern States, particularly for developing infrastructure for management of infectious diseases.

Addressing a Virtual meeting, attended by the Health Secretaries as well as Deputy Commissioners and Health officials of the 14 Aspirational districts of Northeast, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the concept of Aspirational District was based on 49 key indicators, of which the status of healthcare was an important component. Through a scientifically designed mechanism, each Aspirational District was to focus on improving these key indicators and raise its rating viz-a-viz the best performing district of the State and the best performing district of the country in the given indicators, he added.

An important experience from the COVID pandemic, said Dr Jitendra Singh, is that in future, pre-emptive preparedness for epidemic and infection was imperative for optimum healthcare. Considering this, he said, the Ministry of North East (DoNER) has given the North Eastern States the option to send proposals for health related projects to be funded up to over Rs. 500 crore from North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NEISDS), under Ministry of DoNER. Accordingly, he said, proposals have been received from the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram and Nagaland, while the proposal from the eighth State of Tripura was awaited.

Dr Jitendra Singh recalled that long before the lockdown, in the very early stage of impending Corona pandemic, the Ministry of North East (DoNER) had promptly released Rs.25 crores as an immediate assistance for gap-funding. This was later followed by the option to avail from over Rs. 500 crore North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NEISDS) fund.

Dr Jitendra Singh also complemented the Aspirational Districts of Goalpara and Dhubri in Assam for having achieved Ayushman Bharat coverage of nearly 100% and 85% respectively. In addition, Goalpara district had within six months, raised its rating from position 68 to position 16 in the All-India list of 150 Aspirational Districts.

In spite of the issues of connectivity, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the North Eastern States had performed fairly well in managing the Corona crisis. He said, certain issues were brought to his notice, like, for example, inadequacies in the list of potential beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat and the cost of the Golden Card which, he said, shall be taken up with appropriate authorities.

Secretary DoNER and senior officials of the Ministry as well as senior officials of all the eight States of the North Eastern region offered their inputs, based on the experience of healthcare management in the last two months.