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IAF set to fly emergency medical supplies to coronavirus-hit China tomorrow

The products have been procured from govt's own pharmacy chain, the Jan Aushadhi Kendras, and the public sector pharma firm, HLL Lifecare.

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New Delhi: India is all set to dispatch emergency supplies of medical protective equipment to coronavirus-hit China in an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft that is likely to take off Thursday, ThePrint learnt. 

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered India’s assistance to China besides conveying condolences over the loss of lives due to the deadly disease, the government has procured a variety of medical devices such as high-end defibrillators, infusion pumps, a variety of masks, gloves, surgeon caps, and face shields. 

Defibrillators are medical devices used to restore normal heartbeat and infusion pumps deliver fluids and medications into a patient’s body in controlled amounts. 

ThePrint had earlier reported that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, and the Ministry of External Affairs have come together to decide and procure the items for the early dispatch. 

“We have added a variety of high-end medical devices, including defibrillators and infusion pumps, along with the other items, including surgical and non-surgical masks, inspection and examination gloves, shoes and head covers, surgeon caps and face shields,” a senior official, who was involved in the procurement process, told ThePrint. 

Also read: India’s supply of these medicines could be hurt by China’s coronavirus crisis

Jan Aushadhi stores, HLL Lifecare helped in procurement process

The Modi government has procured masks from its own pharmacy chain, the Jan Aushadhi Kendras, that have been opened under its flagship scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PM-BJP). 

Other devices have been procured by public sector pharmaceutical firm HLL Lifecare — commonly known as the producer of condom brand MOODS — from private medical device manufacturers.   

After PM Modi’s letter to President Xi on 8 February, the government had approached the manufacturers of medical devices to start the procurement process.

“Due to emergency procurement, tenders were not floated. However, procurement orders (PO) were floated according to government protocols by HLL Lifecare,” the official quoted above said. 

The government had also reached out to the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMED), the lobby of domestic medical device makers.

“The government has asked us to provide a list of suppliers, their capacities, prices of certain devices and ready stock availability for procurement,” Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator, AiMED had earlier told ThePrint.  

Also read: Modi govt halts plan to stop medicine export as firms in coronavirus-hit China resume work

Coronavirus in China 

At least 1,868 people in China have died due to the coronavirus outbreak with 72,436 infections confirmed, according to the latest reports

The UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres has told media outlet The Associated Press that the virus outbreak that began in China “is not out of control but it is a very dangerous situation”.

Guterres said Tuesday that “the risks are enormous and we need to be prepared worldwide for that”. 

Also read: Coronavirus crisis forcing 41% Indians to rethink travel plans this summer, finds survey


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