More Covid-19 help pours in for India; questions raised about aid allocation | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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More Covid-19 help pours in for India; questions raised about aid allocation

May 04, 2021 08:52 AM IST

Italy sent in oxygen generation plant, 20 ventilators and a team of specialists while UK sent 60 ventilators amid questions from some quarters about the allocation of foreign aid

Support continues to pour in for India’s Covid-19 response, including a large oxygen generation plant from Italy and a consignment of 60 ventilators from the UK on Monday, amid questions from some quarters about the allocation of foreign aid.

New Delhi, Apr 03 (ANI): An aircraft arrives with Covid-19 coronavirus relief supplies from the UK at the Indira Gandhi International Cargo Terminal, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo) (ANI)
New Delhi, Apr 03 (ANI): An aircraft arrives with Covid-19 coronavirus relief supplies from the UK at the Indira Gandhi International Cargo Terminal, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo) (ANI)

A special military flight from Italy brought in the oxygen generation plant and a team of specialists to support the response to a massive surge in Coronavirus infections that has stretched healthcare facilities in many cities.

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The plant, capable of supplying an entire hospital, will be deployed at the ITBP hospital in Greater Noida, the Italian embassy said. The Italian support included 20 ventilators.

The Italian specialists include a team from the Maxiemergenza 118 emergency service of Piedmont region, a doctor from Lombardy region and a representative of the Italian health ministry. The delegation was received by European Union (EU) Ambassador Ugo Astuto and Italian ambassador Vincenzo De Luca, who said, “Italy stands with India in the fight against Coronavirus...The medical team and equipment provided by Italy will contribute to saving lives in these terrible moments.”

Italy is the third EU country, after France and Germany, to include an oxygen generation plant in its support package. France sent eight high capacity plants on Sunday while Germany is set to deliver a similar plant this week.

The fourth consignment of medical supplies from the UK, containing 60 ventilators, also arrived on Monday. According to the Indian embassy in Qatar, 300 tonnes of medical aid from around the world, including ventilators, oxygen concentrators and PPE kits, are being flown in free of charge by Qatar Airways.

The Singapore high commission said three cryogenic oxygen tanks and almost 1,000 oxygen cylinders were being despatched by the Singapore Red Cross and its corporate partners on the Indian warship INS Airavat.

According to an official count, India has already received 1,656 oxygen concentrators, 965 ventilators, 1,782 oxygen cylinders, 17 large cylinders, 20 large oxygen concentrators, 150 bedside monitors, 480 BiPAPs, 20 high flow humidifying oxygen therapy devices, nine oxygen generation plants, 136,000 doses of Remdesivir, 200,000 packs of Favipiravir and other supplies.

However, few details are officially available regarding the distribution of this equipment and other supplies. France and Italy are the only two countries that have specified where some of the equipment they supplied will go – the eight French oxygen generation plants are being distributed among hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Telangana, while the Italian plant will go to the ITBP Hospital in Greater Noida.

This has resulted in questions regarding the allocation of the supplies, including on social media.

The external affairs ministry has said an empowered group of ministers and senior officials is responsible for allocation of the supplies in response to the needs of state governments.

Once the foreign relief materials arrive at an Indian airport, they are handed over to the Indian Red Cross Society, which receives all supplies on behalf of the government. People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity the supplies are then handled by the Red Cross, the Union health ministry and state-run HLL Lifecare, which is responsible for procurement and warehousing of medical supplies for the government.

However, there was little clarity as of Monday how much of the materials had been despatched from HLL’s warehouses at the Delhi airport.

The issue of transparency in distribution of relief materials has been raised by the media in countries such as the US. Asked about the matter, a US embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said: “As each US shipment arrives, USAID is transferring ownership of provided materials upon their arrival to the government of India through the Indian Red Cross organisation.”

The spokesperson added: “We refer you to the government of India for information about the deployment and use of these materials subsequent to their transfer.”

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