Foreign COVID Aid Piled Up at Airport for Days Amid Crisis: Report
The Health Ministry has publicly maintained that they are efficiently allocating all the foreign aid coming in.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has stated that the international COVID relief aid coming in from 28 countries since 25 April has been distributed efficiently. However, an investigation by The Reporters’ Collective contradicted the Centre’s claim in a report on Friday, 14 May.
While India’s healthcare collapse has led to loss of thousands of lives and acute distress owing to oxygen shortages and medical aid, supplies coming in from various countries have been stuck at airports due to lack of allocation and efficient management by the Centre.
First published by The News Minute, the report confirms that India received 57,69,442 medical items till 4 May, of which 3,05,721 items were yet to be allocated as on 6 May. The database has not been updated since.
Stuck in Transit
As per the report, one of the aids – consisting of 3,02,514 units – which was received from Kuwait on 4 May, is yet to be allocated. However, the Ministry of External Affairs has shared the details of the consignments allocated, while the Health Ministry has publicly maintained that they are efficiently allocating all the foreign aid coming in.
Centre Says Otherwise
NITI Aayog has claimed that the process of foreign aid is transparent, digital, and has a system for donors to track the consignment. The system, however, has been criticised for not being transparent enough as it is not open to the general public, but just to private donors.
NITI Aayog also claims that 95 percent of the items have been delivered to beneficiaries. However, as per The Reporters’ Collective, Kerala Health Secretary Dr Rajan Khobragade said on 11 May that the state had only received a few units of oxygen concentrators, despite ordering a larger amount.
The state is following up with HLL Life Care, a Union government-owned corporation for the rest of their consignment.
A large shipment from the US that reached India on 30 April has been stuck in transit till 6 May, as per the report.
On 4 May, the Centre reiterated that they have been extremely prompt in delivering consignments. However, the database showed that it had been last updated on 6 May, after which no details have been shared among ministries, the report stated.
This has happened despite the Centre’s claim that it had appointed a dedicated ‘special cell’ on 26 April to ensure efficient allocation and distribution of relief aid.
(With inputs from The News Minute and The Reporters’ Collective)
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